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SIR C. P. LUCAS, K.C.B., K.C.M.G. 













[The sections marked with an asterisk have not been reprinted.] 


Ordered to be Printed February 11, 1839. page 

No. 1. — Special Report to His Excellency the Governor- General by 
Mr. R. D. Hanson (Assistant-Commissioner of Crown Lands 
and Emigration) on the excessive Appropriation of Public 
Lands, under the name of Clergy Reserves ... 1 
No. 2. — Special Report to his Excellency the Governor-General from 
the Commissioner of Crown Lands and Emigration on 

IMiUtia Claims to grants of Land 6 

*No. 3. — State of the Hospitals, Prisons, Charitable Institutions, &c., 

in Lower Canada. 
*No. 4. — Addresses presented to the Earl of Durham in September and 

October, 1838. 
No. 5. — Letter from Mr. William Young, on the State of Nova Scotia 12 
No. 6. — ^Letter from the Right Rev. A. Macdonell, Catholic Bishop of 

I^K Kingston 18 

^^H *No. 7. — ^Memorial of Anthony Manahan, Esq., complaining of the 
^^^K total exclusion of Roman Catholics (Irish) from all places 

I^^K of emolument and honour in the power of the Government 

i^« of Upper Canada. 

*No. 8. — ^Memorial of Representatives of Scotch Church in Montreal. 
No. 9. — ^Address from the Constitutional Association of Montreal to 

the inhabitants of British America 21 


Ordered to be Printed March 5, 1839. 

Commission by the Earl of Durham, appointing Charles Buller, Esq., 
to proceed with the utmost despatch to inquire into the 
past and present methods of disposing of Waste Lands, 
Woods, Forests and other Domains and Hereditaments 
the Property of the Crown in Lower Canada, &c. . 29 

Circular Despatches from the Governor-General to the respective 
Lieutenant-Governors of Her Majesty's Colonies in North 
America ......... 32 

Report to his Excellency the Governor-General .... 34 
♦Minutes of Evidence. 


Ordered to be Printed March 27, 1839. 

1. — Reports of Commissioners of Inquiry into the Municipal Institu- 
tions of Lower Canada. 

The Commission 131 

Copy of Letter of Instructions from Chief Commissioner 133 



Preliminary Report of Assistant Commissioners . . 136 
General Keport of Assistant Commissioners . . .140 
*2. — Report from the Bishop of Montreal on the state of the Church 
within his Diocese. 


Ordered to be Printed June 12, 1839. 

Commission by the Earl of Durham, appointing Arthur Buller, Esq., 
to proceed with the utmost despatch to inquire into and 
investigate the past and present modes of disposing of the 
produce of any Estates or Funds applicable to purposes of 
Education in Lower Canada, &c. ..... 238 

Report of the Commissioner of Inquiry into the state of Education in 

Lower Canada, &c. ....... 240 

♦Returns made to Education Commission, 1838. 

fReport of Mr. Dunkin, the Secretary to the Commission . . . 294 

♦Plan of Seigniory of Cap de la Magdeleine. 


♦Copy of a Letter from the Earl of Durham to the Marquis of Nor- 

manby, dated 31 May 1839. 
♦Report from the Chief Secretary, on the Commutation of the Feudal 

Tenures in the Island of Montreal, and other Seigniories in 

the possession of the Seigniory of St. Sulpice of Montreal. 
♦Ordinance of the Governor-General and Special Council of Lower 

Canada, for incorporating the Seminary of St. Sulpice of 

♦Report from Mr. Turton, on the Establishment of a Registry of Real 

Property in Lower Canada. 





Despatch from Lord Glenelg to the Earl of Durham, January 20, 1838 305 

Despatch from Lord Glenelg to the Earl of Durham, April 3, 1838 . 311 

Despatch from Lord Glenelg to the Earl of Durham, April 21, 1838 . 314 
Extract of a Despatch from the Earl of Durham to Lord Glenelg, 

August 9, 1838 319 

Lord John Russell's despatch of October 14, 1839 . . . 332 



Written by Mr. Charles Buller, in 1840 . . . .336 

t Extract only reprinted. 






Ordered to be trinted February 11, 1839. 


No. 1. — Special Report to His Excellency the Governor-General by 
Mr. R. D. Hanson (Assistant-Commissioner of Crown Lands and 
Emigration) on the excessive Appropriation of Public Lands, 
under the name of Clergy Reserves. 
No. 2. — Special Report to his Excellency the Governor-General from 
the Commissioner of Crown Lands and Emigration on Militia 
Claims to grants of Land. 
*No. 3. — State of the Hospitals, Prisons, Charitable Institutions, &c., in 

Lower Canada. 
*No. 4. — Addresses presented to the Earl of Durham in September and 
October, 1838. 
No. 5. — Letter from Mr. William Young, on the State of Nova Scotia. 
No. 6. — Letter from the Right Rev. A. Macdonell, Catholic Bishop of 

*No. 7. — Memorial of Anthony Manahan, Esq., complaining of the total 
exclusion of Roman Catholics (Irish) from all places of emolument 
and honour in the power of the Government of Upper Canada . 
*No. 8. — Memorial of Representatives of Scotch Church in Montreal. 
No. 9. — Address from the Constitutional Association of Montreal to the 
inhabitants of British America. 

[The sections marked with an asterisk have not been reprinted.] 

No. 1. 

Special Report to His Excellency the Governor-general 
by Mr. R. D. Hanson (Assistant-commissioner of 
Crown Lands and Emigration) on the excessive 
Appropriation of public Land, under the name of 
' clergy reserves '. 

My Lord, Quebec, 29 October, 1838. 

In compliance with your Excellency's direction, I have the 
honour to furnish a report upon the subject of the excessive 
appropriation of public land in the two provinces of Upper 
and Lower Canada, under the name of ' clergy reserves '. 

The clergy reserves in both of these provinces are made 
under the authority of the Act 31 Geo. 3. c. 31, commonly 

X352-3 B 


known as the Constitutional Act. The 36th section of that 
Act, after enabling His Majesty to authorize the Governor or 
Lieutenant-governor of Lower or Upper Canada to make out 
of the lands of the Crown, within either province, such an 
allotment and appropriation ' for the support and main- 
tenance of a Protestant Clergy ' as might bear a due proportion 
to the lands previously granted, enacts, ' that whenever any 
grant of lands within either of the said provinces shall here- 
after be made by or under the authority of his Majesty, his 
heirs or successors, there shall at the same time be made in 
respect of the same, a proportionable allotment and appro- 
priation of lands for the above-mentioned purpose, within 
the township or parish to which such lands, so to be granted, 
shall appertain or be annexed, or as nearly adjacent thereto 
as circumstances will admit ; and that no such grant shall be 
valid or effectual, unless the same shall contain a specification 
of the lands so allotted and appropriated in respect of the 
lands to be thereby granted ; and that such lands so allotted 
and appropriated shall be, as nearly as the circumstances and 
nature of the case will admit, of the like quality as the lands 
in respect of which the same are so allotted and appropriated, 
and shall be, as nearly as the same can be estimated at the 
time of making such grant, equal in value to the seventh part 
of the lands so granted.' 

By instructions issued by the British Government, addressed 
to the Governor and Lieutenant-governor of Lower and Upper 
Canada, the ungranted public lands in both provinces were 
directed to be laid out in townships of certain fixed dimensions, 
generally ten miles square, containing, after making the 
necessary deduction for roads, about 63,000 acres. These 
townships were divided into lots of 200 acres each. With 
a view to supposed convenience and uniformity of appro- 
priation, it was decided by the Provincial Government, that 
the land to be appropriated for the clergy in respect of all 
grants should be set apart at the time of the survey of the 
townships ; and, in order to be sure that the lands appro- 
priated for this purpose should be of equal value to the land 
open to be granted, it was settled, that the clergy reserves 
should be interspersed at equal intervals all over the township. 
But, instead of reserving every eighth lot, which would have 
been equal * to the seventh part of the land to be granted,' 
every seventh lot was set apart for this purpose. The same 
mode of reserving the lots, and the same amount of reserva- 
tion, was pursued in both provinces. In each province also 
another seventh of every township was set apart in a similar 


manner, and termed ' Crown reserves ', in order that these 
reserves might in after years furnish the Government with 
a revenue independent of taxation. 

In Upper Canada a practice prevailed of making all grants 
from the Cro^svn, whatever might be the amount of the grant, 
in separate lots. Two or three or more of these lots might 
happen to be situate in the same township, if the person 
entitled to the grant chanced to find in that township a 
sufficient quantity of land of the quality and position that he 
desired. But it frequently happened that an individual 
having a liberty of choice over all the surveyed lands of the 
province, which had not been granted or appropriated, 
preferred receiving his grant in separate lots, and would often 
wait for a considerable period, until he could obtain what he 
deemed a suitable location, rather than put up with an 
inferior lot. It therefore generally happened that no grant 
in any one township was equal to more than from 200 to 
600 acres, and that therefore it was necessary to specify in 
the deed by which it was made as the appropriation for a 
Protestant clergy some fractional portion of a lot set apart for 
that purpose. It was therefore natural that the terms of the 
Act should be followed in spite of the original error of setting 
apart one-seventh instead of one-eighth, and in practice 28|^ 
acres were specified in each grant of a 200 acre lot, as the 
appropriation and allotment for the support and maintenance 
of a protestant clergy in respect of the same. This quantity, 
it will be seen, was equal in amount, and, the land being 
of the same average quality, equal also in value, to a seventh 
of the land granted. Assuming, however, each township to 
be of the dimensions stated above (63,000 acres), of which 
9,000 were set apart for the clergy reserves, and 54,000 acres, 
including the reserves for the Crown, were open to grant, 
it is obvious that when the whole of the latter amount had 
been granted there would have been specified at the rate of 
28f for each 200 acres, only 7,7 14f acres, leaving unspecified 
l,285f acres, or one-seventh of the whole original proportion 
set apart for the clergy reserve. The practice pursued at 
first, with regard to the specification, was to specify six- 
sevenths of each separate lot, so that in every township there 
would be a portion of each lot nominally clergy reserve, but 
in reality still Crown land. For it would seem clear, under 
the words of the Act, that no land becomes clergy reserve 
until it has been specifically appropriated in respect of a grant 
from the Crown. The setting apart the lots in the diagram, 
and keeping them closed against settlement, was merely an 

B 2 


arrangement adopted for the supposed convenience of the 
land-granting department, and could have no effect upon the 
legal property in the land. It was a device adopted by the 
land-granting department, in order to comply with an enact- 
ment evidently made in ignorance of the degree in which the 
best method of executing it would be found cumbrous and 
complicated. At a later period, however, the practice of 
specifying only six-sevenths of each lot was changed, and, 
instead of a part, the whole of each lot was specified ; but 
one-seventh of the reserved lots in each township was left in 
its original character of Crown land. 

In the evidence of Mr. Radenhurst, the chief clerk in the 
Surveyor-general's office, it is stated that this excess has 
occurred in about two-thirds of the surveyed townships. 
From a careful consideration of the returns that he has 
supplied, it however appears that the actual excess at the 
present time is about 300,000 acres. 

I have selected the case of Upper Canada in the first in- 
stance, because it is more simple, and because the practice 
of the Surveyor-general in making the actual appropriation 
to be specified in the grant, by its conformity with the terms 
of the Act, exhibits clearly the nature and extent of the 
original error committed by the Governor and Council, in 
setting apart the seventh of each township. In Lower 
Canada the same amount of reservation was made for both 
the Crown and the clergy ; but the different methods of 
granting land pursued by the Government of that colony 
led to a practice on the part of the Surveyor-general which 
greatly aggravated this original error. The first grant made 
after the passing of the Constitutional Act appears to have 
been to the Honourable Thomas Dunn and 47 others, of the 
whole of the township of Dunham, with the exception of 
the Crown and clergy reserve, or five-sevenths of the township, 
amounting to about 45,000 acres. In the patent for this 
grant the Surveyor-general specified the whole 9,000 acres 
of clergy reserve in the township as the allotment and appro- 
priation in respect of the lands granted, and thus made the 
appropriation equal to one-fifth, instead of one-seventh, of 
the grant, being an excess in that particular case of 2,571- 
acres. In the ten following years after the making of this 
grant, nearly 1,500,000 acres were granted by the Crown in 
a similar manner, and in each patent the whole of the land set 
apart as a reserve for the clergy in the granted portion of 
each township was specified as the allotment and appro- 
priation for the clergy in respect of the grant. The practice 


thus commenced was continued after the circumstances out 
of which it arose no longer existed, and it became a settled 
course to specify for the clergy in the patent for every grant 
a portion of land equal to one-fifth of the amount of the 
grant. So that instead of the reserve being at the rate of 
28| for every 200 acres, it was at the rate of 40 acres, being 
an excess in each case of 11^ acres, or two-fifths upon the 
reserve awarded by law. 

When, however, the system of disposing of the public lands 
in the colony by sale, instead of free grant, was introduced, 
the Crown reserve of one-seventh was offered for sale with 
the other public land. But when the purchasers of this land, 
after having paid the purchase-money, applied for a patent, 
the Attorney -general of the province, by whom these patents 
were prepared, conceived that any patent for the land thus 
sold, as a grant of land under the authority of the Crown, 
would be rendered invalid by the clause in the Constitutional 
Act quoted above, unless it contained a specification of an 
allotment for the clergy in respect of the land it purported 
to convey. Under this opinion he refused to sign the draft 
of any patent which did not contain such specification. As 
however the whole of the land originally set apart for this 
purpose in each township had been already specified in 
previous patents, it was necessary that a fresh reserve should 
be made, either out of the Crown reserves in that township, 
or out of other lands, for the purpose. This was accordingly 
done, but this fresh reserve was again equal to one-fifth, 
instead of one -seventh of the land granted ; so that the 
reserve for the clergy upon the grant of 54,000 being the six- 
sevenths of a township, exclusively of the reserve for the 
clergy, instead of 7,7 14| acres, amounted to 10,800 acres, 
being an excess of 3,085| acres. In addition, moreover, to 
the excess thus occasioned, the sale of a portion of the clergy 
reserves authorized by the Act of the Imperial Parliament, 
7 Geo. 4, c. [ * ] has been made the occasion of a further reserve. 
It appeared to the Attorney-general that the sales under the 
authority of this Act were grants by the Crown, and, as such, 
required a specification of a reserve for the clergy in respect 
of the land comprised in any patent, in order to their being 
valid. This interpretation of the law prevailed, and accord- 
ingly a further reserve of one-fifth was made upon these sales, 
making the reserve 12,600, instead of 7,7 14f acres for each 
township of 63,000 acres, and the excess over the reserve 

* Sic in the Blue Book, no doubt the Act of 1827, 7 & 8 Geo. IV, cap. 62. 


which would appear to have been contemplated by the 
Constitutional Act, 4,885 1 acres. Under the opinion held by 
the Attorney-general, similar reserves would have to be made 
upon any fresh sale of these additional reserves, and the 
result would be to give to the clergy a portion equal to one- 
fourth of the granted land, instead of one-seventh, being 
a clear excess of 75 per cent. The excess in Lower Canada 
does not amount at present to more than 227,000 acres over 
44,600, or about 50 per cent., because four-sevenths of the 
clergy reserves are yet unsold, and consequently no additional 
reserves have been made upon them. The amount for which 
the land set apart on the map, as reserved for the clergy, has 
been sold in Upper Canada, is 314,150^., and of this one- 
seventh, or 44,878?., is in fact the proceeds of Crown land 
improperly sold under the name of * clergy reserves ', and 
belongs to the public. Of the 50,425Z. produced by the sale 
of land similarly appropriated in Lower Canada, one-third or 
16,808Z. is the proceeds of 'Crown land, and also belongs to 
the public. 

I have, &c. 

(signed) R. Davies Hanson, 
To His Excellency Ass^-comm'* of Crown Lands and 

the Governor-general. Emigration. 

No. 2. 

SPECIAL REPORT to His ExceUency the Governor- 
General from the Commissioner of Crown Lands 
and Emigration. 

To His Excellency the Governor General. 
My Lord, 
Special HAVING nearly concluded the inquiry into the disposal of 

Report to crowTi lands and emigration in the Province of Lower Canada, 
cellency ^ ^^8 leave to report upon the subject of the militia claims to 
the grants of land ; a matter which appears to require the im- 

Govenor- mediate interposition of Government, and cannot, Avithout 
from^he g^©^^ inconvenience, be postponed till the completion of the 
Commis- inquiry in the neighbouring Provinces, which must precede 
sioner of any general report. 

LarXand ^^ appears that grants of land to individuals who served 

Emigra- in the militia during the last American war, were first directed 

tion. by instructions which in 1818 were transmitted by the Home 

Government to the Duke of Richmond, then Governor of the 

Province, under which all subsequent proceedings seem to 

have been taken ; though, as no record of these instructions 




is extant in the Colony, and no measures have been adopted 
to procure a copy of them from England, it is impossible to 
determine positively the parties to whom grants of land were 
directed to be made. From an Act of the Provincial Parlia- 
ment, 59 Geo. 3, c. 23, appropriating 3,000?. for the survey of 
townships within which the grants were to be situated, it 
would seem that the instructions referred almost entirely to 
the embodied militia. 

Under the Act referred to, several townships were surveyed 
and laid out, and on 2d November 1822, a proclamation 
was issued by Lord Dalhousie, directing all persons who had 
served in the six battalions of embodied militia, and such as 
had marched to the frontier, to bring in their claims before 
the 1st of May 1823. The time fixed by this proclamation 
as the limit within which claims were to be made, was after- 
wards enlarged, by another proclamation, to the 1st of May 
1824, and again on the 29th of July 1829, by another procla- 
mation, to the 1st of August 1830. 

Under these proclamations, claims to a very considerable 
extent appear to have been made, and upwards of 200,000 
acres have been granted : a question, however, arose at an 
early period as to the character of the individuals to whom 
the original proclamation was intended to apply. In addition 
to the six battalions of embodied militia, there were several 
corps of the sedentary militia, which had been called out 
during the course of the war, and had for a short time marched 
to the frontier, the members of which contended that they 
were entitled, under the terms of the proclamation, to the 
same benefit as those who had belonged to the six battalions 
of embodied militia. The claims of many of these individuals 
were favourably received by the Executive Council ; and 
upon their report recommending grants, two or three persons 
received location tickets. When, however, the subject was 
brought under the notice of Lord Dalhousie, he refused to 
confirm the report of the Council, in the favour of an individual 
belonging to the sedentary militia, who had for a short time 
marched to the frontier, on the ground that the proclamation 
was only intended to apply to the six incorporated battalions. 
It does not appear that any claims of this nature have been 
subsequently allowed, with the exception of two or three 
which were sanctioned during Lord Dalhousie's temporary 
absence from the Colony, by Sir Francis Burton, the Lieu- 
tenant Governor. 

AU the grants made to claimants under this proclamation, 
were made upon conditions of settlement. The grantee was 


to reside upon his property during a period of three years ; 
to erect a dwelling-house, and to clear and cultivate four acres 
of land ; these conditions were complained of as burthensome ; 
and in 1837, Lord Gosford issued a proclamation, since con- 
firmed by instructions from the Secretary of State for the 
Colonies, stating that the claims of the officers and men who 
served in the embodied militia during the last American war, 
had been brought under the notice of Government, and that 
such of the officers and men as had lodged their claims previous 
to the 1st of August 1830, should obtain land free from all 
conditions, except of performing the public and joint labour 
required by the law of the Province. By the same proclama- 
tion a board was constituted, to whom all claims were to be 

The claimants before that board have been of three classes ; 
1st. those who had served in the six battalions previously to 
1830 ; 2d. those who had belonged to other corps, and who, 
according to the rule laid down by Lord Dalhousie, had no 
title under the original proclamation, but who had lodged 
their claims before 1830 ; and, 3d. those of whatever class 
who had not made their claims before that period. The 
number of individuals of the first class amounts to 2,195 ; 
of the second class, to 2,598 ; and of the third, to 1,669. 

Upon the claims of the first class no question can arise ; 
according both to the spirit and letter of the proclamation 
of Lord Gosford, they must be admitted. As little doubt can 
arise as to the third class, who are expressly excluded by the 
same proclamation ; but there appears to be some difficulty 
with regard to the second class, arising partly from the am- 
biguous language of the proclamation of Lord Dalhousie, and 
partly from the fact that some few individuals belonging to 
that class have actually been admitted to the benefit of the 
proclamation. The conduct of l^ord Dalhousie himself is 
explicit as to the meaning that he attached to his own pro- 
clamation ; and it may be inferred from the sum granted 
by the Assembly for the purpose of surveying, that they did 
not contemplate these cases, which, if admitted, would have 
doubled the amount of land required as included in the 
proclamation, since they would in that event have hardly 
granted a sum so entirely inadequate to the purpose. It is, 
however, stated that there Avere one or two corps who were 
incorporated in the same manner, and performed the same 
services as the six battalions. If this is the case, individuals 
belonging to these corps, as their services were equal, would 
seem to be entitled to similar reward ; and the terms of the 


original proclamation, as well as those of all the Addresses 
of the House of Assembly on the subject, and of the last 
proclamation, are sufficiently comprehensive to include them. 
The question for the decision of the board to whom these 
claims have been referred, appears to be a question of facts. 
It would appear that those who were embodied and actually 
served on the frontier in the same manner as the six battalions, 
ought to be considered as entitled to the benefit of the pro- 
clamation, while all but these are altogether excluded. It 
may be mentioned that the exclusion of those belonging to 
the third class, who, notwithstanding ample notice, and 
two separate enlargements of time, neglected to make any 
claim in due time, is strictly in accordance with the view 
expressed by the Home Government in their Despatch to 
Lord Gosford, and with Lord Gosford's answer to the House 
of Assembly. 

The proclamation of Lord Gosford, directing that letters 
patent for the land to be granted should contain none of the 
conditions formerly imposed, was founded upon an Address 
from the House of Assembly, representing those conditions 
as onerous to the militia men, and destructive of the value 
of the grant. There appears to have been much justice in 
this representation, since the greater part of the locations 
allotted to militiamen were distant from settlement, and the 
expense of clearing and cultivating the requisite quantity of 
land away from a market, and with no practicable roads 
leading to the spot, was very considerable, amounting in 
man}^ cases to more than 5s. per acre upon the whole grant, 
while in this part of the Province land was selling as low as 
Is. 3d. per acre. The performance of these settlement duties 
would not have been burthensome, if the individual acquiring 
the land had been about to establish himself upon it ; but in 
a great number of cases the grantee had land elsewhere, from 
which he did not choose to remove, or the lot assigned to 
him might be 15 or 20 miles from a settlement ; and in all 
such and similar cases the conditions were performed solely 
with a view to enable the individual performing them to 
obtain his patent. The grant was so situated generally as 
to be useless for the purpose of settlement ; and the conditions 
to which it was subject rendered it of no value in any other 
point of view. 

The House of Assembly, in urging the abandonment of 
these conditions, seems, however, to have overlooked, or to 
have, been ignorant of, circumstances which have appeared 
in evidence before this commission, and which would entirely 


defeat the intentions of the House, so far as they were desirous 
of conferring advantages upon the militiamen. It has been 
stated by all the witnesses who have been examined upon this 
subject, that the majority of the militiamen have already 
disposed of their claims, and that this has been done in most 
instances for very inadequate considerations. They were 
induced to do this partly by the difficulty and trouble of 
urging their claims in person, and the expense of employing 
an agent, and partly by the nature of the conditions they were 
required to fulfil. To such an extent is this sale of militia 
claims stated to have been carried, that it would seem almost 
as though the militiamen themselves were not more interested 
in any facilities for the acquisition of these grants, or relaxa- 
tion of the conditions attached to them, than any other class 
of the community ; and the benefit which, by a compliance 
with the wishes of the Assembly, Government designed to 
secure for a numerous and deserving class, would be reaped 
chiefly, if not entirely, by speculators, by whom these claims 
have been bought, and who, even supposing their bargain 
with the militiamen to have been fair, had assuredly no claim 
to any particular consideration from the Government. They 
had purchased the claims subject to the conditions of settle- 
ment, and paid a proportionally low price for them, and the 
abandonment of these conditions was a boon to them entirely 
uncalled for by the real circumstances of the case. 

It is, in fact, obvious that, upon any system of land granting 
to such a body as the militia, a similar result to that which 
has been described as having actualty taken place, must, to 
a certain extent, be expected. The majority of the militia 
were French Canadians, who have not hitherto been and are 
not now an emigrating people. Those of them, too, who 
might have been disposed to settle upon their lands, would 
find that the desert round them, consisting of lands which 
had been granted to non-resident militiamen, rendered their 
success as settlers impossible. They would have been isolated, 
or thinly scattered over a large tract of wilderness, away from 
society, and removed from all manner of religious instruction, 
to which they attach the highest importance ; deprived of all 
succour, and without the superintendence to which they had 
been accustomed. Under such circumstances nothing could 
be expected but that they would sell their land, and generally 
for an inadequate consideration, since they would estimate 
its value by what, under the circumstances, it seemed to be 
worth to them. From the evidence of Mr. Morin, this appears 
to be so much the case, that any indication of a favourable 


disposition, on the part of Government, in regard of these 
claims, has had no other effect than that of stimulating 
speculation in them, and, instead of inducing the militiaman 
to obtain the lands for himself, in order that he or his family 
might settle upon them, has only increased in some small 
degree the price which he could obtain for his claims. 

But while the grant of land, as land being useless to the 
militiaman, is merely equivalent to him to a grant of some 
very small variable amount in money, its effects upon the 
Province have been most injurious. Under the claims of the 
militia of 1775, upwards of 230,000 acres, and under those of 
the last American war upwards of 217,000 acres, have been 
granted, by far the largest part of which is still perfectly 
waste and unsettled. Whole townships which have been 
granted in this manner, have not a single settler established 
upon them. In this manner it has happened that a system 
which was designed as a means of settling the Province, and 
of rewarding those who had enlisted in its defence, has proved 
one of the great impediments in the way of the former object, 
and has accomplished the latter in the smallest possible degree. 
There has been the maximum of injury to the Province, with 
the minimum of benefit to the militiamen ; and a similar 
result must, it would appear, necessarily follow a perseverance 
in the same system. There is no probability that the 300,000 
or 400,000 acres to which valid claims might be established, 
if granted in the same manner, would be settled any more 
than the 450,000 acres which have already been granted, 
or that the benefit to the militiamen would be greater in 
any appreciable degree. It becomes, therefore, a matter of 
importance in every point of view, to frame some plan by 
which the intentions of Government, in offering this bounty, 
might be carried out ; by which justice may be done to the 
claimants, while the interests of the public are secured. 

The most effectual measure for this purpose appears to be 
the following : — That any claim established should be con- 
sidered as entitling the claimant to an amount equivalent 
to the value of the quantity of land awarded to him, at the 
average selling price of crown lands during the last ten years ; 
and that an order for this amount should be given to him, 
which should be accepted as money at any sale of crown 
lands. In all cases the order should be delivered to the 
claimant himself, or, in the event of his death, to his legal 
representatives, or upon the production of an order, signed 
by him in the presence of witnesses, after due notification of 
the intentions of Government in all parts of the Province. 




By this precaution, the militiaman would be secured as far as 
possible in the enjoyment of the benefit designed by Govern- 
ment, and only such a sale of his claim as ought in equity to 
be held valid, could be enforced against him. 

I have the honour to be, Avith the highest respect. 
My Lord, 
Your Excellency's most obedient, humble servant, 

(signed) Chas. Butler, 
Chief Commissioner of Crown Lands and Emigration. 
Quebec, 8 September 1838. 

from Mr. 
on the 
State of 

No. 5. 

Letter from Mr. William Young on the State of Nova 

My Lord, Quebec, 20 September 1838. 

In the several interviews with which my associates and 
myself have been honoured since our arrival in Quebec, 
frequent allusion has been made to the revenue and expendi- 
ture of Nova Scotia, the composition of the two councils 
lately organised, and the evils that are complained of in the 
administration of her public affairs. The statement annexed 
to the joint communication which we addressed yesterday to 
your Lordship on the main object of our mission, contains 
a general and pretty accurate account of the sources from 
Avhich the revenue of the province is derived, and the mode 
in which it is expended ; and I feel that it is a duty I owe to 
my constituents and to the liberal or popular party with 
whom I usually act in the Assembty, to avail myself of this 
opportunity of placing before your Lordship in writing, in 
a more distinct and permanent form than a mere verbal 
communication, the principal grievances which the great 
majority of the people anxiously desire to be reformed. 
There are some well-informed and upright men in our province 
who ridicule the idea of there being any grievances with us, 
and distrust the party who have proclaimed their existence, 
and aim at their redress. If those who deny that there are 
grievances, mean only to say, that there are none of such 
magnitude as should render the people discontented with 
their condition, or disturb, even for an hour, the tranquillity 
of the government, I concur with them to the full extent. 



Abuses in Nova Scotia have never reached the same irritating 
or fearful height which we have witnessed in other provinces. 
The substantial blessings of an enlightened, and, upon the 
whole, an impartial and upright administration of the law, 
of perfect freedom of conscience, and the unfettered exercise 
of industry, of the absence of oppression in every form, have See 
been long enjoyed by us, and have doubtless largely con- Journals 
tributed in fostering that ardent attachment to the British ^^j ^^^' 
Crown and institutions, which may be fairly said to be an 
universal feeling. I know not of a single individual of in- 
fluence or talent, who would nor regard a severance of our 
connection with the mother country, and our incorporation, 
which would soon follow, into the American Union, with its 
outrages on property and real freedom, its growing demo- 
cratic spirit and executive weakness, as the greatest mis- 
fortune that could befall us. Let not your Lordship, then, 
or the British Ministry, be misled into a belief, that there is 
any party in Nova Scotia which does not reverence the name, 
and would not uphold, at every hazard, the supremacy of 
England. True, we admire the enterprise, activity and 
public Avorks of the United States, and would wish that they 
were more largely imitated in our own possessions ; but the 
people of Nova Scotia have no desire to purchase these or 
any other advantages, by deserting their constitution. They 
do, however, desire that our public affairs in some respects 
should be more economically and wisely managed : and it is 
to these that I have now respectfully to solicit your Lordship's 
most favourable attention. 

First. The administration of the Crown Lands is universally 
and most justly complained of. Before the introduction of 
the present system, grants could be obtained on the payment 
of moderate fees, which were distributed among the different 
officers, and reduced the necessity and amount of salaries. 
In this point of view, the lands yielded some, though a very 
inadequate, revenue to the Crown, and the country was 
easily and quickly settled. Improvident and enormous grants 
to individuals, which have been the bane of other colonies, 
and were not unknown to our early history, have been long 
unheard of among us, and the old system, though far from 
effective, worked well and smoothly. But the Home Govern- 
ment were unhappily persuaded to erect a new office, with 
a salary disproportioned to its duties, and a substitution of 
sales at an upset price for the fees on grants, and ever since 
there has been murmuring and discontent on every side. 
The officers who used to receive the fees complained that 


they were deprived of their emoluments, and have increased 

their demands of salary ; and the expense of maintaining 

the new office, and paying the commissioner his 500/. sterling 

a year, has swallowed up very nearly the whole proceeds. 

Journals Upwards of 100,000 acres of land have been sold since 1831, 

of 1837, ^j^^ about 7,700/. received, of which only 1,047/., as near as 

I can compute it, and that for the most part in the last year, 

has been paid into the casual revenue. This, however, is 

but a small portion of the evil. The young men of the colony, 

unable to purchase the wild lands on the terms now imposed, 

and who would constitute our most valuable and hardy 

settlers, are leaving us by hundreds, and the clearing and 

lb. 199. improvement of the country is greatly retarded. I rejoice, 

fol. 1838. therefore, that your Lordship contemplates a thorough change 

fol. 184. ^^ ^^® system, and look to it with confidence and hope, as 

one of the most important benefits that will flow from your 


Secondly. The oppressive and systematic encroachments 
of the Americans upon our fisheries have attracted universal 
attention, and exasperated all classes. It would be vain for 
me to attempt a discussion of this extensive subject, which 
has already engaged your Excellency's notice. The question 
is examined in all its bearings in a Pamphlet which I had 
the honour of sending to Colonel C. Couper, with the Journals 
and other documents referred to in this letter, and your 
Lordship will find a great body of facts collected by a com- 
mittee of the Assembly in 1837, and annexed to their report, 
which fully establishes the reality and extent of injuries done 
to our people by foreign aggressors. 

Thirdly. The expense of our customs' establishment is 
regarded as a serious evil. Previous to 1826 the principal 
officers were paid by fees, and enjoyed very large incomes. 
When these were abolished, a proposition was made to our 
legislature to grant an annual sum towards the maintenance 
of the establishment, which was accordingly done by the 
Act 10 Geo. 4, c. 31, in consideration of the abolition of the 
fees, and of the benefit which the removal of the former 
burthensome restrictions would confer on the general com- 
merce of the province. The Assembly of that day, however, 
is usually supposed to have made an improvident bargain, 
such as the present Assembly, I am sure, would never have 
yielded. They granted in perpetuity for the support of the 
Prov. customs' establishment no less a sum than 7,144/. 18^. 9d. 
Laws, currency, payable out of the Imperial duties. Besides this 
fol. 57. large amount, the establishment, as I have already mentioned, 


exhausts the whole of the Crown duties, which are under- 
stood to yield about 2,500?. currency. The establishment 
costs us, therefore, nearly, if not quite, 10,000?., and it collects 
about 15,000?. worth of duties. The salaries are, many of 
them, enormous, and the colonial revenue is collected by a 
distinct department, which might easily be dispensed with, 
at an annual charge, including the commission of 15 per cent, 
paid in the out-ports, of about 2,500?. The duties of both 
departments might be as efficiently, and with more conveni- 
ence to the merchant, fulfilled by one, at an annual expense 
of about 6,000?. So that in this single item a saving is quite 
practicable, with the approval and sanction of the British 
Government, of 6,500?. a year — a sum nearly equivalent to 
all that the legislature can bestow on its favourite object, the 
intellectual and moral improvement and education of the 

Fourth. The Assembly has long been solicitous that every 
port in the province where there is a custom-house officer, 
should be declared a free port. The present system fosters 
the illicit trade which so injuriously affects our revenue, and 
cripples the activity of our foreign commerce. The Assembly 
have declared that they can see no reason to fear an equal 
open competition between the industry of their constituents 
and that of any other nation, and have earnestly petitioned 
the Home Government, and supported the application by 
very cogent arguments, that every port where a custom-house 
officer is stationed may be permitted to enjoy the privileges 
of a free port. 

Fifth. The emoluments and salaries of some of the officers 
of government, not under the control of the legislature, are 
disproportioned to the means of the colony, and engender 
habits of expense which re-act upon the manners of the 
people, and hinder the accumulation of capital. The secretary 
of the province has 1,000?. sterling a year out of the casual 
revenue, and holds besides the lucrative office of registrar of 
deeds. I will not undertake to state the amount of his 
income ; but it is plain, that it far exceeds what any officer 
should derive from the public funds of a young and com- 
paratively poor colony. The opinion is gaining ground, and 
I entirely concur in it, that none of our public officers, even 
the highest, with the exception of the Governor, should have 
more than 1,000?. currency a year, and that none, except 
two or three of the highest, should receive more than a puisne 
judge. Connected with this subject is an unhappy question 
still open, and which all men must anxiously desire to have 


finally adjusted. Certain fees have been taken by our Chief 
Justice and Judges of the Supreme Court, under an old 
ordinance of Council, which the Assembly have repeatedly 
attacked as illegal. On the strict constitutional ground I 
have no doubt they are so, though I admit that much is to 
be said, and plausibly and forcibly said, by the advocates 
of the fees. They amount, on an average, to about 500Z. 
a year, and, for the sake of this sum, and the principle it is 
supposed to involve, we have the painful and singular anomaly 
of a court, highly respected for integrity as well as talent, 
exacting fees which the representatives of the people have 
denounced as contrary to law. For my own part, in con- 
sideration of these fees having been received for half a century, 
and, till of late years, with the implied acquiescence at least 
of the legislature and people, I would be willing to commute 
them by a reasonable allowance to the present Chief Justice 
and Judges. At one time, I think, the Assembly would have 
granted such a commutation ; but nothing, I am convinced, 
would induce them to it now. In the debate of last session 
on the civil list, the majority offered, in exchange for the 
casual and territorial revenue, to grant permanently to Her 
Majesty the following salaries : To the Lieutenant -[governor 
during his continuance in office, 3,000^. sterling per innum ; 
and to any future Lieutenant-governor, 2,000/. ; to the 
present Chief Justice, 850Z. sterling her annum, without fees, 
during his continuance in office ; and to any future Chief 
Justice, 750/. sterling ; and to each of the Assistant Justices 
of the Supreme Court, 500/. sterling, without fees. They 
resolved also, that the provisions for the Attorney and 
Solicitor General, and secretary of the province, should be 
made by annual votes, a point on which I differed from them 
for the same reasons that are put so forcibly in the Report 
of the Canada Commissioners. I think it right also to add, 
that I voted against the first Resolution, as I feared it might 
defeat the proposed settlement, and thought the salaries 
somewhat lower than they ought to be. 

Sixth. The majority of the House of Assembly is dissatisfied 
with the composition of the Executive and Legislative Coun- 
cils, and the preponderance in both of interests which they 
conceive to be unfavourable to reform. This is the true 
ground, as I take it, of the discontent that is felt. The 
respectability and private virtues of the gentlemen who sit 
at the two Council Boards are admitted by all ; it is of their 
political and personal predilections that the people complain. 
They desire reforming and liberal principles to be more fully 


represented and advocated there, as they are in the Assembly. 
The majority of the House, while they appreciate and have 
acknowledged the anxiety of his Excellency the Lieutenant- 
governor to gratify their just expectations, have also expressed 
their dissatisfaction that the Church of England should have 
been suffered to retain a majority in both Councils, notwith- 
standing the remonstrances of the House, and the precise and 
explicit directions of the Colonial Secretary. Religious dis- 
sensions are happily unknown among us, and the true way to 
prevent their growth and increase, is to avoid conferring an 
inordinate power on any one sect, however worthy it may be 
of respect or favour. The argument in the Address of last 
session on this point appears to me irresistible. I have 
respectfully to invite your Lordship's consideration also of 
the Address passed by the House in the session of 1837. 
These documents are the authentic and deliberate expositions 
of the views entertained by the Assembly, and touch on most 
of the questions I have referred to in this letter. Had it not 
extended to such length, I would have been glad to introduce 
some remarks also on the jurisdiction and practice of the 
Admiralty Court, which will soon become an intolerable 
grievance, as some already consider it to be, and on the 
management of the post-office, and the Act which was passed 
during the last session, and which will save us, if it go into 
operation, about 1,000/. per annum. There are other reforms 
demanded in our local affairs, particularly in the excessive 
number of our common-law judges and courts, and the want 
of an effective and easy appeal from our other tribunals, with 
which I shall not trouble your Lordship, as they are within 
the power of our own legislature. The reforms I have taken 
the liberty of urging depend, for the most part, on the British 
Government, and I earnestly hope that they will commend 
themselves to your Lordship's approval. An intelligent and 
powerful mind cannot fail to discover their substantial justice, 
and the high sanction of your Lordship would greatly assist 
us in our endeavours to accomplish them. Several of these 
points have been discussed by Mr. Uniacke and myself in the 
presence of your confidential advisers, and I have shown 
the draft of this letter * to him and to my two other associates. 
The accuracy of the facts I have stated is, I believe, unques- 
tionable, and I am confident that the great body of the people 
concur in the conclusion I have drawn from them. 

I beg, therefore, in conclusion, respectfully to solicit your 

* Mr. Uniacke, on reading the letter, wishes me to add, that he does not 
concur in it. 

1352-3 (5 


Lordship's powerful interposition in our behalf, and to assure 
your Lordship that I have written this letter purely on public 
grounds, being on terms of friendly intercourse with almost 
all the members of Her Majesty's Councils, and the officers 
of Government, Avhose emoluments, however, I consider, in 
many instances, higher than the province can afford. 

I have, &c. 

(signed) W'"' Young ^ 
His Excellency the 
Eight Honourable the Earl of Durham, Governor-general, 

&c. &c. &c. 

No. 6. 

Letter from the Right Rev. A. Macdonell, CathoHc 
Bishop of Kingston, 

My Lord, Quebec, 22 June 1838, 

Letter YouR Excellency's arrival in these provinces, invested with 

from the more extensive powers than were ever yet entrusted to any 
Rev. A. British subject, shows the unbounded confidence which your 
Macdonell, Sovereign has been graciously pleased to repose in your 
Catholic Excellency's liberal and enlightened policy, and at the same 
Kin^^ton. ^^^^ inspires the inhabitants with sanguine expectations, 
that those powers will be exercised to remove the grounds of 
the jealousies, discontents and disaffection which have occa- 
sioned already so much evil in both the Canadas, and, if 
allowed to continue much longer, will infallibly terminate in 
direful results. 

A residence of 34 years in Upper Canada, and an uninter- 
rupted intercourse during that period with a large proportion 
of the population of the province who are placed under my 
own charge, and a general acquaintance with almost all the 
respectable characters in both provinces, have given me 
opportunities of knowing the sentiments, feelings and disposi- 
tion of Canadians which few others have had ; and, under- 
standing that your Excellency has expressed a desire of 
receiving all the information that can throw light on the 
causes which occasion the unfortunate differences and troubles 
that have existed, and still do exist in these provinces, I 
consider it my duty to submit respectfully, but fearlessly and 
unhesitatingly, to your Excellency, such information as my 
opportunities have enabled me to acquire. 

The population of Upper Canada is composed of Protestants 
of the Church of England, Methodists, Presbyterians, and 



Scots Highlanders, who joined the royal standard during the 
revolutionary war with the United States, and are called 
U. E. Loyalists, and their descendents, and the disbanded 
soldiers of the First Glengarry Fencible regiment, whom 
I conducted unto this province with an order from the home 
government to give them a grant of land ; French Canadians, 
who inhabit the Avestern district, and Irish emigrants, who 
have been pouring annually in great numbers into the pro- 
vince ever since the conclusion of the last war. 

'All the French Canadians, and a great majority of the Irish 
emigrants and Scotch Highlanders, are Catholics. All the 
Irish Catholics, and the whole of the Scots Highlanders, 
have given the most unequivocal proofs of their loyalty and 
attachment to the British constitution, by rushing to arms 
at the first call of the Government. The Scots Highlanders, 
not satisfied with mustering to the number of 2,000 men in 
their own province, volunteered their services to Lower 
Canada, and two corps of them served on the frontier until 
the excitement occasioned by the threats of the rebels had 
entirely subsided. 

So successful were the exhortations of the Catholic clergy 
to their respective flocks, that scarcely any of them was 
implicated in the rebellion. The leaders and chief contrivers 
of the late outbreak were Protestants, Presbyterians and 
Methodists ; but the majority of the rebels were Methodists 
and Presbyterians. Such of the Protestants as became dis- 
affected and inimical to the Government, are so from jealousy 
and disappointment at seeing a certain party in and about 
Toronto assume too much power, and exercise what they 
think too much influence over the different Lieutenant- 
governors ; so much so, that there is hardly a situation of 
trust or emolument that is not engrossed by themselves and 
their friends. 

The Methodists and Presbyterians have become disaffected 
from their dread and abhorrence of a dominant church, and 
they cannot be persuaded but the establishment of rectories, 
and the postponement of the distribution of the clergy reserves, 
are preludes to a system which they are fully determined to 
resist to the utmost of their power ; and it is in vain to expect 
that peace or permanent tranquillity can be established in 
the province until these questions are finally settled. 

The warm and animated discussion which has taken place 
between the archdeacon of Toronto and the Honourable 
William Morris, of Perth, in reference to the right of the 
Presbyterians to a share of the clergy reserves, has raised 



a general excitement among the Presbyterians, which it 
will take a long time to allay, and which may terminate in 
unpleasant, if not dangerous consequences. 

The Catholics, who compose a great proportion of the 
population of Upper Canada, are either Irish emigrants, 
Scots Highlanders, or French Canadians. All those, although 
not disaffected to the Government, are far from being satis- 
fied. The Irish arrived in this county with their minds under 
a strong irritation, arising from the pressure of tithe exactions, 
rack-rents in their own country, and, above all, their mortal 
hatred to Orangeism, which they find rapidly spreading over 
this province : they are with great difficulty persuaded that 
they will meet with justice and fair play in Canada, and are 
thus predisposed to receive every unfavourable impression 
A\'hich the exaggerated misrepresentations of the disaffected, 
who are most anxious to win them over to their party, choose 
to make upon them. 

Unable to build places of worship for themselves, or educate 
their children, they, as well as the Scots Highlanders, feel 
greatly disappointed at being excluded from their share of 
the clergy reserves, and at not receiving any assistance from 
Government for the education of their children, although the 
Methodists obtained this very year a grant of 4,100/. towards 
their seminary at Cobourgh. 

There are abundant funds for education in the province, 
if the school lands were disposed of, and the proceeds applied 
to the support of district and common schools. The with- 
holding of those funds, and of the clergy reserves, from the 
purposes for which they were intended, and the spread of 
the Orange system, are the principal, if not the only, grounds 
of discontent among all denominations in Upper Canada. 

The Scots having contributed so materially to the conquest 
of the Canadas, and to the defence of them on every occasion 
when any attempt had been made to wrest them from the 
British crown, feel indignant that they should be deprived 
of all the rights and advantages which others enjoy who have 
not the same claims that they themselves have. 

I humbly beg leave to submit to j^our Excellency a further 
claim, which the Catholic clergy of this diocese conceive to 
have on the Government, on account of the charge they 
have for many years past taken of the various tribes of Indians 
who inhabit different parts of this province, and of those 
who this year and last summer emigrated from the territories 
of the United States to the Manatoline Islands in Lake Huron. 
The Methodists, who have taken great pains to convert 



these simple people to their religious creed, have so disgusted 
the Indians by their interference with temporal concerns, 
contrary to the practice of the Catholic clergy, who confine 
themselves entirely to spiritual matters, that they have been 
most urgent to get Catholic priests among them ; and I have 
so far complied with their solicitations, as to appoint two 
clergj^men, who speak the Indian language, to Penetangue- 
shine and the Manatoline Islands ; but as the Indians them- 
selves can afford nothing towards the support of those 
clergymen, and my salary, although not half the amount of 
that which the Catholic Bishop of Quebec receives from the 
British Government, being burthened with the expenses of 
the education of 14 students for the ecclesiastical state, it is 
impossible for me to afford them any assistance, and the only 
means they have of supporting life in these remote and 
dreary regions, where their duty calls them to spend their 
time among savages, is the slender quota that falls to their 
share of the 1,000^. allowed by Government to all the Catholic 
clergy of Upper Canada. 

The Jesuit property in Lower Canada had been bequeathed 
by the original donors for the purpose of instructing the 
Indians in the Catholic religion ; and as that duty now 
principally devolves upon the Catholic clergy of Upper 
Canada, I should hope that your Excellency would see the 
justice and propriety of ordering at least a share of that 
property to go towards supplying the Indians with religious 
instruction, and thus fulfilling the original intention of the 

I have, &c. 

Alexander Macdonell, 
Bishop of Kingston, Upper Canada. 

No. 9. 

Address from the Constitutional Association of Montreal 
to the Inhabitants of British America. 

Fellow Countrymen, 

When an industrious population, after years of suffering, Address 
are aroused to a sense of danger, by renewed attacks upon J^^^"^ ^}^^ 
their rights and liberties, an appeal to those of kindred blood, tutional 
animated by the same spirit, and allied by a communion of Associa- 
interests, can excite no surprise, and requires no justification. ^^ ^^ 

Long and patiently have the population of British and 


to the in- Irish descent in Lower Canada endured evils of no ordinary 

^f'^*?:?*^ description, relying on the interposition of the Imperial 

America. Covernment for relief. Deceived in their fondly-cherished 

trust, they are impelled to seek from their own energies that 

protection which has been withheld by the power on whose 

justice they reposed. 

For half a century they have been subjected to the domina- 
tion of a party whose policy has been, to retain the distin- 
guishing attributes of a foreign race, and to crush in others 
that spirit of enterprise which they are unable or unwilling 
to emulate. During that period, a population descended 
from the same stock with ourselves, have covered a continent 
with the smiling monuments of their agricultural industry. 
Upper Canada and the United States bear ample testimony 
of the flood-tide of prosperity, the result of unrestricted 
enterprise and of equitable laws, which has rewarded their 
efforts. Lower Canada, where another race predominates, 
presents a solitary exception to this general march of improve- 
ment. There, surrounded by forests inviting the industry 
of man, and offering a rich reward to his labour, an illiterate 
people, opposed to improvements, have compressed their grow- 
ing numbers almost within the boundaries of the original 
settlements, and present in their laws, their mode of agricul- 
ture, and peculiar customs, a not unfaithful picture of France 
in the seventeenth century. There, also, may be witnessed 
the humiliating spectacle of a rural population not unfre- 
quently necessitated to implore eleemosynary relief from the 
Legislature of the country. « 

It were incredible to suppose that a minority, constituting 
nearly one-third of the entire population, imbued with the 
same ardour for improvements that honourably distinguishes 
their race throughout the North American continent, and 
possessing the undisputed control of all the great interests 
of the colony, would resign themselves to the benumbing 
sway of a majority, differing from them so essentially on all 
important points, whilst any mode of deliverance was open 
to their choice. Nor would supineness or indifference on their 
part produce a corresponding change in their opponents, or 
mitigate the relentless persecution with which they have 
been visited. The deep-rooted hostility excited by the 
French leaders against those of different origin, which has 
led to the perpetration of outrages on persons and propertj^ 
and destroyed confidence in juries, who have been taught 
to regard us as their foes, has extended its pernicious influence 
beyond the limits of Lower Canada. Upper Canada, repulsed 



in her endeavours to open a direct channel of communication 
to the sea, has been driven to cultivate commercial relations 
with the United States, whose policy is more congenial with 
her own. Nova Scotia and New Brunswick will learn, with 
indignant surprise, that the destruction of their most important 
interest is countenanced and supported by the Assembly of 
this province. 

A French majority in one province has caused these accumu- 
lated evils, — a British majority in the United Provinces will 
compel their removal. 

If it be the desire of the French Canadians to isolate them- 
selves from the other subjects of the Empire, by cherishing 
the language and manners of a country which stands to them 
in the relation of a foreign power, the effects of such a pre- 
judice will chiefly be felt by themselves, and may be left for 
correction to the hand of time ; but, when national feeling 
is exhibited in an active opposition to the general interests of 
the British American Provinces, when immigration is checked, 
the settlement of the country retarded, and the interests 
of commerce sacrificed, to the visionary scheme of establishing 
a French power ; it becomes the solemn duty of the entire 
British population to resist proceedings so pregnant with evil. 
Let it not be said that a million of freemen permitted their 
rights to be invaded, and their onward course impeded, by 
a faction which already recoils in alarm from the contest it 
has rashly provoked. 

Connected as are the Provinces of British America by a 
chain of rivers and lakes, affording the means of creating 
an uninterrupted water communication between their extremi- 
ties, at a comparatively small expense ; possessing within 
themselves the elements of an extensive trade by the inter- 
change of those products which are peculiar to each, and 
forming parts of the same Empire, they have the undoubted 
right to require that these advantages shall not be sacrificed 
by the inertness or the mistaken policy of any one State ; 
more especially when, as in the case of Lower Canada, that 
State, from geographical position, exercises a preponderating 
influence on the prosperity of all. 

The facts which have been made public in two addresses, 
emanating from this Association, conclusively establish the 
want of education among the French population, their sub- 
serviency to their political leaders, and the hostility of those 
leaders to the population of British and Irish descent. Many 
additional illustrations of their hostile policy might be 


At a time when men of all political parties in the sister 
provinces are united in opposing the contemplated change 
in the timber duties, the Assembly of this province, far from 
lending their assistance, have countenanced the attack, by 
recognizing as their agent in England an individual who is 
distinguished by his advocacy of the Baltic interests, and 
his active opposition to the colonial trade. To aid in the 
prosecution of this design, they have not scrupled to appro- 
priate a part of the provincial funds (obtained under the 
pretext of defraying their contingent expenses) to reward 
their agent, and to circulate through the British press state- 
ments that are calculated to mislead the public mind ; thus 
gratifying their national animosity, by lending a willing 
aid to ruin the shipping and mercantile interests of the British 
American provinces, and to prevent the influx of immigrants 
from the British Isles, who are brought to the Colonies 
at a trifling cost by the vessels engaged in the timber 

Upper Canada is honourably distinguished for works com- 
pleted and in progress, remarkable for their magnitude and 
for the extensiveness of their destined utility. The St. Law- 
rence Canal, at this moment in active progress, will complete 
an uninterrupted navigation for vessels of considerable 
burthen from the upper lakes to the line dividing that pro- 
vince from Lower Canada ; but at that point the spirit of 
British enterprise encounters the influence of French domina- 
tion ; the vast design of rendering the remotest of the inland 
seas accessible to vessels from the ocean, is there frustrated 
by the anti-commercial policy of the French leaders. We 
look in vain to their proceedings for any manifestation of 
a desire to co-operate in the great work of public improvement 
which animates, as with one spirit, the entire North American 
population of British descent ; nor is their adverse disposition 
less visible in their opposition to other important designs ; 
they either refuse to grant charters to carry into effect works 
of acknowledged public utility, or, when after repeated and 
earnest applications, charters are obtained, they are clogged 
with restrictions of an unusual character, in the hope of 
rendering them inoperative. 

In all new countries the deficiency of capital proves a 
serious impediment to the exertions of the enterprising and 
industrious, and it would be among the first duties of a wise 
Legislature to invite the introduction of foreign capital, by 
the adoption of an equitable system of law, that would inspire 
confidence in personal and in landed securities. In Lower 


Canada, from the absence of Offices for the Registration of 
real estate, and from the system of secret and general mort- 
gages, not only is foreign capital excluded, but the Colony is 
impoverished by the withdrawal of funds for profitable and 
secure investment in other countries. In tracing the motive 
of resistance to a measure that more than any other would 
advance the public welfare, we again encounter the pernicious 
influence of French exclusiveness. A general distrust of the 
titles and securities of landed estate is suffered to exist, in 
order to prevent the acquisition of real property by immigrants 
from the British Isles. 

This spirit of exclusiveness, which betrays itself in all the 
proceedings of the Assembly, disfigures even those measures, 
which, it might reasonably be expected, would inspire senti- 
ments of a more lofty and generous nature. Although the 
British Act of the 14 Geo. III. which confirmed the right of 
the French Clergy to tithes, declared, most probably for that 
very reason, that the religious communities should not hold 
estates, they continue in the undisturbed possession of tracts 
of land, exceeding fifteen hundred square miles in extent, 
besides possessing property of great value in Quebec, Montreal, 
and elsewhere. In addition to the revenues derived from 
these possessions, the Assembly annually appropriates large 
sums of money out of the Provincial revenues for the support 
of those communities, and for the establishment of institutions 
rigidly and exclusively French, whilst to other institutions 
on a liberal foundation, affording relief to all, without dis- 
tinction of origin or creed, a fair participation of legislative 
aid has been refused. 

It is to ' the great body of the people ' thus characterized, 
that his Excellency the Earl of Gosford, the representative 
of a British King and the head of the Commission deputed 
to inquire into our complaints, has declared that all future 
appointments to office shall be made acceptable. 

A Legislative Council constituted on such a principle, would 
be but a counterpart of the Assembly ; it might, and no 
doubt would, relieve the Executive from the odium of sanc- 
tioning the illegal appropriation of a part of the provincial 
revenues, by the mere vote of the Assembly ; but it would 
not prevent the same misapplication of the public funds being 
effected by bill, which is now accomplished by an address to 
the head of the Administration. 

A Government thus conducted, would forfeit all title to 
our confidence, would be regarded but as an instrument to 
secure the domination of a party, and the brief period of its 


duration would be marked by scenes of outrage, and by 
difficulties of no ordinary description. 

The French leaders, if we are to credit their reiterated 
assertions, entertain an attachment so deep, so absorbing, 
for elective institutions, that they would at once confer that 
important privilege, to its fullest extent, without reference 
to previous habits, education, or political dissensions. How 
much of this ardour may have been called forth by a desire to 
establish French ascendancy, and to depress British interests, 
may fairly be deduced from a review of their past proceed- 
ings. Without discussing the question of elective institutions, 
which, it is obvious, cannot be introduced to the extent 
demanded by the Assembly, under the existing political 
relations of the colony, which relations we are resolute to 
maintain, we distinctly aver, that we are not influenced by 
idle apprehensions of a government of the people, and for the 
people ; but it must be emphatically a government of ' the 
people ', truly represented, and not that of a French faction ; 
the government of an educated and independent race, attached 
to the principles of civil and religious liberty ; and not that of 
an uninformed population, striving for domination, and seek- 
ing to perpetuate in America the institutions of feudal Europe. 

To the people of the sister Colonies we appeal, earnestly 
recommending the adoption of measures for assembling at 
some central point a Congress of Deputies from all the 
Provinces of British North America. A British American 
Congress, possessing strength from union, and wisdom from 
counsel, by the irresistible weight of its moral influence, 
would supersede those other remedial measures which are 
the last resource of an insulted and oppressed community. 
On it would devolve the solemn duty, calmly to deliberate 
on all matters affecting the common weal, and firmly to resist 
all attempts to invade the rights, or impair the interests of 
the United Provinces. 

In submitting a brief recapitulation of the objects of the 
Constitutional Association, it may not be misplaced to offer 
a few observations explanatory of the position of parties in 
Lower Canada, and of the sentiments of the British population 
towards their fellow-subjects of French origin. 

The moral guilt of exciting national hostility undoubtedly 
rests with the French leaders, who alone benefit by the dis- 
tracted state of the country ; but the facility with which the 
French peasantry have received these impressions, and the 
unanimity with which they support the aggressive policy of 
their leaders, render them, although less culpable, yet equally 



determined opponents of our rights and our liberties. Un- 
happily, their want of education prevents a direct appeal 
being made, through the press, to their judgment ; but those 
of their countrymen who are not blinded by the infatuation 
of party, who possess education to comprehend, and oppor- 
tunity to make known, the sentiments of the British popula- 
tion, may be led to reflect upon the consequences that must 
result from their present delusion. Should the admonition 
be disregarded, on them let the responsibility rest. 

The province of Lower Canada, whether regarded as a 
part of the British Empire, or of the great North American 
family, is evidently destined to receive the impress of national 
character from those States by which she is surrounded. An 
obstinate rejection of all measures, having for their aim the 
gradual removal of those peculiarities which distinguish the 
population of French origin, may retard, for a time, an 
inevitable event, but will certainly hasten the introduction of 
changes of a more abrupt and decisive character. 

A dispassionate examination of the changes required by the 
British population will satisfy all unprejudiced men that they 
are adapted to the general interests of society, are liberal 
and comprehensive in their character, and unconnected with 
party objects. 

To relieve landed estate from the servitudes and exactions 
of feudal law ; 

To introduce Registry Offices, and put an end to the ini- 
quitous frauds that grow out of the present sj^stem ; 

To promote works of public improvement ; 

To encourage agriculture, and protect commerce ; 

To recognize an equality of rights among all classes ; 

To resist the domination of sect or party, and to establish 
a general system of education divested of sectarian tests : — 
These are our objects and our demands ; they are based on 
truth, are essential to national prosperity and to individual 
security ; they admit of no compromise, and from them we 
will not recede. 

The threatening aspect of the times demands action ; 
neutrality, the usual resource of ordinary minds, will not be 
attended by an immunity from danger ; it must remain with 
the population of French origin to decide, whether, by con- 
tinuing to support the leaders they have hitherto selected, 
they are to be regarded as hostile to our just claims ; or, by 
uniting with their fellow-subjects of British origin, they will 
compel the introduction of salutary reforms, consign to their 
native insignificance the few individuals who alone profit by 


the present system of misrule, and by repudiating ancient 
prejudices, and exclusive pretensions, place themselves in 
accordance with the spirit of the age. 

To us, it is in one respect a matter of indifference what their 
decision may be. The principles we espouse are identified 
with the happiness of the human race ; they have taken root 
with our language in all quarters of the globe ; and wherever 
that language is spoken, there shall we meet encouragement, 
and thence shall we derive force. 

Although Lower Canada presents the strange spectacle of 
a British Government bestowing its confidence on men who 
have openly avowed their hostility to England, and their 
desire to effect a separation from the Empire ; although, 
by the connivance of that Government, the provincial funds 
have been illegally applied to reward French agitators, to 
support French journals, and to pay French agents ; yet do 
we feel the proud conviction, that the energies of Britons 
will rise superior to the emergency, and that, despite an 
unnatural coalition, the banners of our country will continue 
to wave over a British Province. 

The voice of supplication has been unheeded amidst the 
insolent clamours of faction. United British America, assum- 
ing an attitude alike removed from menace or from fear, will 
proclaim her wrongs, assert her rights, and claim from the 
Imperial Parliament that interposition which shall remove 
existing grounds of complaint, and carry with it a sufficient 
guarantee against future aggressions. 

By order of the Executive Committee of the 

Montreal Constitutional Association. 

William Robertson^ Chairman. 
J. Outhrie Scott, Secretary, 
Montreal, January 1836. 


Ordered to be printed March 5, 1839. 


Commission by tiie Earl of Durham, appointing Charles Buller, Esq., 
to proceed with the utmost dispatch to inquire into the past and 
jiresent methods of disposing of Waste Lands, Woods, Forests and 
other Domains and Hereditaments the Property of the Crown in Lower 
Canada, &c. 

Circular Despatches from the Governor-general to the respective 
Lieutenant-governors of Her Majesty's Colonies in North America. 

Report to his Excellency the Governor-general. 
*Miuutes of Evidence. 

[The section marked with an asterisk has not been reprinted.] 

No. 1. 

Province of 
Lower Canada. 


VICTORIA by the Grace of God, of the United 
Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Queen, 
Defender of the Faith. 

To Charles Buller, Greeting : — 
Whereas it is highly expedient and desirable that the dis- 
posal of the extensive tracts of waste land, the property of 
the Crown, in Our Provinces of Lower Canada, Upper Canada, 
Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, and our islands of Prince 
Edward and Newfoundland, should be placed upon such a foot- 
ing as may most effectually conduce to the increase of popula- 
tion and wealth in the said provinces and islands, and the 
general prosperity thereof, and in particular to greatly in- 
creased emigration from the mother country, both of capitalists 
and labourers, as permanent settlers ; to the end that, while 
the vast but imperfectly developed resources of the said 
provinces and islands should as soon as possible be made 
fully productive, a more intimate connexion between Britain 
and her colonial empire in North America, founded on com- 
mon interests and productive of mutual advantages, may be 


established and permanently secured. And whereas We have 
ordered and directed each of Our Lieutenant-governors of 
Our Provinces of Upper Canada, Nova Scotia, and New 
Brunswick, and our islands of Prince Edward and Newfound- 
land respectively, to affix the Great Seal of the province or 
island of which each is respectively Lieutenant-governor, to 
a commission addressed by Us to you, to the like effect and 
containing the like powers and authorities, for inquiry, touch- 
ing the waste lands, the property of the Crown, in each such 
province or island respectively, as are hereinafter contained : 
Know ye, therefore, that We, reposing great trust in your 
zeal, ability, and discretion, have nominated, constituted and 
appointed, and by these presents do nominate, constitute and 
appoint you the said Charles Buller, to j)roceed with the 
utmost despatch to inquire into the past and present methods 
of disposing of waste lands, woods, forests and other domains 
and hereditaments, the property of the Crown, in our Province 
of Lower Canada, and to collect information respecting the 
operation thereof in regard to the advancement of our said 
Province, and in particular to the promotion of emigration 
thereto from the mother country. And Our further will and 
pleasure is that you, after due examination of the premises, 
do and shall, as soon as conveniently may be, report to us 
under your hand and seal, what you shall find touching or 
concerning the premises upon such inquiry as aforesaid, and 
also that you shall suggest such alterations or modifications 
of the laws and regulations at present in force, as may appear 
likely to promote the objects aforesaid. And for the better 
discovery of the truth in the premises. We do by these presents 
give and grant to you full power and authority to call before 
you such and so many of the officers of the Crown Lands 
Department and agents for emigrants, in our said Province of 
Lower Canada, and such other officers of the Cro\\Ti, and 
other persons, as you shall judge necessary, by whom you 
may be the better informed of the truth in the premises, and 
to inquire of the premises and every part thereof, by all other 
lawful ways and means whatsoever. And We do also give 
and grant to you full power and authority to cause all and 
singular the officers aforesaid, in our said Province of Lower 
Canada, or any other person or persons having in their custody 
any records, orders, regulations, books, papers or other writ- 
ings relating to or in any wise connected with the premises, 
to bring and produce the same before you. And for your 
assistance in the due execution of this our Commission, We 
do hereby authorize you to nominate and appoint such person 


or persons as you shall think fit to be assistant commissioner, 
or assistant commissioners, for the purposes aforesaid, or any 
of them, and to delegate to him or them such and so many of 
the powers hereinbefore vested in you as may seem expedient. 
And Our will is, and We do hereby direct and ordain, that the 
person or persons so nominated by you shall possess and 
exercise any powers and authorities so as aforesaid delegated 
to him or them, in as full and ample a manner as the same 
are possessed and may be exercised by you under the authority 
of these presents. And We do hereby further authorize and 
empower you, at your discretion, to appoint such person as 
secretary to this Our commission, as to you shall seem proper, 
and to frame such temporary rules, orders, and regulations 
with regard to the manner of disposing of such Crown lands 
in Our said Province of Lower Canada, as may to you appear 
expedient, and from time to time, at such like discretion, to 
alter and vary the same, due regard being had in all such 
rules, orders, and regulations, to any Provincial Act or Acts, 
and to any Royal instructions now in force in Our said Pro- 
vince of Lower Canada, touching or concerning the disposal 
of the said waste lands or any part thereof. And We do 
hereby further authorize and empower you to give instruc- 
tions to the several officers of the Crown lands department 
and agents for emigrants in Our said Province, as to the per- 
formance of the duties of their respective offices, subject, 
nevertheless, to all such Provincial Acts or Royal instructions 
as aforesaid ; which instructions shall be in all respects bind- 
ing upon the officer or officers to whom the same shall be 
respectively addressed. 

In testimony whereof We have caused these our letters to 
be made patent and the Great Seal of our said Province of 
Lower Canada to be affixed thereto. 

Witness our right trusty and right well beloved John George 
Earl of Durham, Viscount Lamb ton, &c. &c. Knight Grand 
Cross of the Most Honourable Military Order of the Bath, 
one of our Most Honourable Privy Council, and Governor- 
general, Vice-Admiral and Captain General of all our Pro- 
vinces within and adjacent to the Continent of North America, 
&c. &c. &c. &c. 

At our Castle of St. Lewis, in Our City of Quebec, in 
Our said Province of LoAver Canada, the 18th day of 
June, in the year of our Lord 1838, and in the first year 
of Our Reign. (signed) D. Daly, Secretary. 


No. 2. 

Circular DESPATCHES from his Excellency the 
Governor-General to the respective Lieutenant- 
Governors of Her Majesty's Colonies in North 

Sir, Castle of St. Lewis, Quebec, 18 June 1838. 

In the exercise of the powers vested in me as Governor- 
general of Her Majesty's colonies in North America, and Avith 
a view to the permanent establishment of an improved system 
in the disposal of waste lands, the property of the Crown in 
those colonies, and the promotion of emigration thereto upon 
the most extensive scale that circumstances will admit, I have 
prepared a Commission, directing an immediate inquiry into 
the subject, for each of the provinces and islands comprised 
in my general government ; and also authorizing the com- 
missioner therein named to issue temporary rules and regula- 
tions for the disposal of Crown lands in each colony, and to 
give instructions to the officers of the Crown lands department 
as to the performance of their duties. 

I enclose the commission as prepared for the province of 
Upper Canada, and have to direct that you will cause the 
Great Seal of that province to be immediately affixed thereto, 
and that the commission, together with a copy of this despatch, 
may be published in the usual manner. 

As one of the incidental, though not least desirable results 
of an improved system in the disposal of lands, the property 
of the Crown, may, I hope, be a very considerable increase in 
the value of all lands which have become private property ; 
and as the expectation of such a result might lead to applica- 
tions for grants of land upon the terms now in force to such 
an extent as should defeat, or at least seriously impede, the 
most beneficial operation of the improved system, and especi- 
ally the very desirable result above mentioned, I have also to 
instruct you, that until further directions from me, you will, 
so far as it may be in your discretion under any Provincial 
Act, or Royal instructions, or otherwise, abstain from alien- 
ating anj^ waste lands the j)roperty of the Crown. You may 
rely on receiving those further directions in so short a time 
as to prevent any inconvenience from the present suspension 
of your discretionary powers in this respect. 

I have, &c. 

His Excellency, &c. &c. (signed) Durham. 


rSir, Castle of St. Lewis, Quebec, 30 June 1838. ' 

Refebring to my despatch of the 18th instant, on the 
subject of Crown lands and emigration, I have now to explain 
to you more fully the views with which I thought it indis- 
pensable to require your co-operation in the measures which 
I propose to adopt for the purpose of improvement and 
emigration in Her Majesty's North American colonies. 

In the first place, I am desirous to draw your attention to 
an extract, which is enclosed, from a despatch which I have 
addressed to Her Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for 
the Colonies on this subject ; whereby you will perceive the 
great importance which I attach to such an inquiry for all the 
colonies, with a view to the adoption of a permanent and 
uniform system. 

But it is chiefly because I fear, that without some such 
precaution the announcement of this inquiry might lead to 
a sudden and most mischievous alienation of public property, 
that I have requested you, so far as your discretionary powers 
would admit, to preserve the public property for the most 
effectual attainment of a great public purpose. The only 
serious obstacle, as it appears to me, with which Government 
would have to contend, in seeking to render the Crown lands 
productive of a great revenue, is the very large proportion 
of granted lands which remain in a wild state ; and this 
obstacle, whatever may be its present force, would of course 
be increased if much more Crown land were alienated, with- 
out provisions for its cultivation far more effectual than any 
that have hitherto been tried. On this account only, I should 
be glad if it were possible to put a stop to all further grants 
for the present. 

But as this is not possible, inasmuch as laws or regulations 
to the contrary are in full force, I must be content with inter- 
posing, for the present, all such obstacles to the further 
alienation of Crown property, as may depend on the dis- 
cretionary powers of the different governments under such 
laws and regulations. In pursuance of this view of the sub- 
ject, I have to desire that, in the exercise of such discretionary 
powers, you will, as far as possible, rather impede than facili- 
tate the alienation of CroAvn property, and more especially 
any alienation except for the very highest price and most 
ready payment that it may be lawful for you to require. 

I have, &c. 
His Excellency, &c. &c. &c. (signed) DurJiam. 

X352'3 p 



REPORT to his Excellency the Governor-General. 

My Lord, 

HAVING completed the inquiry directed by the five several 
Commissions addressed to me by your Excellency, in respect 
of the Colonies of Lower Canada, Upper Canada, Nova Scotia, 
New Brunswick, and the Island of Prince Edward, as to the 
manner in which waste lands, the property of the Crown, have 
been disposed of within the same, I have the honour to lay 
before your Excellency the evidence which has been taken 
upon the subject of that inquiry, and in conformity with those 
Commissions, to suggest the improvements which seem to me 

The inquiry directed by your Excellency differed in one 
very essential particular from those that have been previously 
made under the authority or for the information of the Govern- 
ment. All former inquiries appear to have been confined to 
the actual condition of the land yet remaining at the disposal 
of the Crown, without any reference to the character or the 
results of former proceedings in relation to the land which had 
been already disposed of. By this limitation of the subject 
of inquiry, however, the practical utility of the investigation 
was reduced to a very small amount ; and any conclu- 
sions to be drawn from the facts ascertained were liable to 
serious modifications, from circumstances which had been 
entirely overlooked. A very brief examination indeed was 
sufficient to convince me that any information I might obtain, 
with respect solely to the remaining property of the Crown 
in the wild lands of these Provinces, must be necessarily in- 
complete and fallacious. I not merely found that the amount 
of this property was, in most colonies, altogether insignificant 
in comparison with the wild lands which had become private 
property ; but I also discovered that the value of the public 
lands still undisposed of was entirely dependent upon the 
state of the appropriated lands of the colonies. It would 
have been useless to ascertain merely how many thousands 
or millions of acres of fertile land yet remain at the disposal 
of the Crown in these Provinces when the success of any 
attempt to turn them to account must be contingent upon 
the proceedings adopted by the proprietors of that land over 
which the Crown has no control. The neglect of this con- 
sideration has led to great practical errors in the measures 
hitherto adopted to promote emigration and the acquisition 


Jf from every part of the colonies, except that which belonged 
F to the Crown, it has led the Government to act as though 
this were the whole, or as though the situation and condition 
of the remainder might be safely disregarded. Acting under 
this impression, the Government has induced many persons 
to emigrate to those colonies by the offer of land upon which 
to settle, although the land thus promised was absolutely 
worthless for all purposes of cultivation, on account of the 
vast tracts of waste granted land that were interposed between 
the new grant and the settled districts of the colony. Of the 

» persons to whom land has been thus offered, many have 
' wasted their property in attempting to settle upon their 
grants ; and the remainder have allowed their land to remain 
in a wild state, because they felt that no endeavours to reclaim 
it from the wilderness could be successful. These evils might 
probably have been avoided, if, at the time when Government 
instituted the inquiries previously referred to, it had directed its' 
attention to the waste granted as well as to the waste ungranted 
lands in the Province. In order that similar errors may be 
avoided for the future, an inquiry into the nature and opera- 
tion of previous methods of disposing of public lands must 
precede any suggestions as to the method to be pursued with 
regard to that which still remains undisposed of. 

This course was also rendered expedient by another con- 
sideration. Looking upon these Provinces as fields for British 
colonization, it became obvious that their value, in this respect, 
depended less upon the measures which might be adopted for 
the future disposal of the public lands, than upon those which 
were employed to remedy the evils of former practices. In 
Upper Canada, for instance, to which by far the greater por- 
tion of emigration has of late years been directed, and which 
has been selected as the scene of more than one experiment 
in colonization by former administrations, very little more 
than a seventeenth part of the surveyed land remains at the 
disposal of the Crown. The remaining sixteen parts have been 
long since granted or appropriated ; but of this granted land 
very little more than a tenth, in the whole, is occupied by 
settlers. This colony, having reference to the circumstances 
of soil, climate, and geographical position, is probably the 
most valuable portion of all the colonial possessions of the 
British empire upon the North American continent. In 
addition to a soil better adapted for the raising of grain than 
almost any other portion of that continent, it is so placed as 
to form the natural channel through which nearly all the 

D 2 


trade of the rapidly-increasing States of the west would pass. 
By an outlay quite inconsiderable in comparison with the 
results to be obtained, a practicable water communication 
might be established from Lake Huron, which would shorten, 
by more than 300 miles, the distance from that lake to the 
ocean. The natural facilities of communication too, by means 
of the lakes by which the Province is bounded on its southern 
and western frontier, and the River Ottawa, which forms its 
north-eastern boundary, are probably superior to those 
possessed by any tract of country of similar extent in North 
America. Were it adequately settled, it could scarcely fail to 
be one of the most thriving countries in the new world. At 
present, with the greater part of its soil unoccupied, and with 
a population widely scattered over its surface, it is certainly 
one of the least thriving ; and this in spite of an emigration 
unprecedented for the number and wealth of the emigrants. 
And all of its great natural advantages are altogether unavail- 
ing for public or national objects. The Government of the 
United Kingdom, by the profuse grants which it has made or 
sanctioned, has closed against its own subjects by far the 
larger portion of this most valuable colony. But, unless this 
Province is to be practically abandoned, and all the benefits 
that might be derived from its possession, as a home for 
the destitute population of the empire, and a market for 
the products of British industry, are to be relinquished, the 
attention of Government must be directed rather to the land 
of which it has disposed than to that which remains at its 
disposal ; and it will be necessary to adopt means to turn 
the former to account, before framing plans for the wiser and 
more profitable management of the latter. 

The case of Upper Canada is the case of all the Provinces. 
In some the proportion of land remaining at the disposal of 
the Government is greater, and in others less, than in that 
colony ; but in every Province that which remains is value- 
less, so long as that which has been granted is allowed to 
remain unimproved. In every Province the disposal of the 
public land, which in new countries is the most important 
of all the functions of Government, must be suspended for 
a period of indefinite duration ; or, concurrently with the 
measures proposed for the purpose, means must be taken to 
remove the obstacles to progress, occasioned by the manner 
in which that function has been hitherto exercised. The 
inquiries directed by your Excellency form the appropriate 
and necessary foundation for any proceedings intended to 
accomplish this object. 


» Before I proceed to detail, for your Excellency's informa- 
tion, the results of the investigations which I instituted, and 
the remedial measures which this investigation has suggested, 
it is expedient that I should advert to one topic, of very 
considerable importance, connected with the subject. The 
measures which I shall have to propose are of a character to 
demand the exercise of the powers of the Imperial Legislature ; 
but they are, at the same time, such as that Legislature may 
perhaps shrink from adopting. It may be deemed that they 
involve too great an interference with the property of indi- 
viduals, and with the rights of the provincial legislatures, to 
render their adoption safe or just ; and it may be argued that 
the subject is one which appertains of right to the colonies, 
and upon which they alone ought to legislate. I shall here- 
after, when describing the nature of those measures, and the 
grounds upon which they rest, advert to the particular reasons 
which induce me to imagine that they cannot be advantage- 
ously or effectually carried out by any other than the supreme 
and central authority of the empire ; but, independently of 
those reasons, the present appears to me to be a case in which 
it is the plain duty of the Imperial Legislature to interfere. 
It is not merely that the evils in all the colonies are similar 
in their nature and their origin, and requiring the same 
remedy ; nor that it is for the interests of each of these 
colonies that in all an uniform system should be adopted, 
so that the results of one system in one colony may not be 
counteracted by the operation of another system in one or 
more of the neighbouring colonies ; nor that the nature of 
the only adequate remedy is such as to require a central con- 
trol, and some efficient guarantee for its permanency ; and 
that therefore upon all these grounds the interests of the 
colonies require that the supreme and central authority of the 
empire should interpose ; — but higher interests than those of 
the colonies, the interests of the empire of which they form 
a part, demand that Parliament should establish at once, and 
permanently, a well-considered and uniform system. The 
waste lands of the colonies are the property, not merely of the 
colony, but of the empire, and ought to be administered for 
imperial, not merely for colonial, purposes. And in whatever 
measures may be adopted to promote emigration, or facilitate 
settlement, the interests of the empire are involved, and 
should be consulted as much as those of the colonies. 

It is true that hitherto, while in name the property of the 
Crown, and under the control of an English minister, these 
lands have been in effect administered by colonial authorities 


for purely colonial purposes. It was indeed impossible that it 
should be otherwise. The execution of the instructions from 
time to time issued by successive Secretaries of State, or Lords 
of the Treasury, has of necessity been entrusted to those who, 
in the colonies, were the peculiar representatives of the English 
Crown ; the Governor acting with the advice of his Executive 
Council. But the power nominally given to the Governor 
vested in effect entirely in his Council ; and the members of 
that Council, being residents in the colony, having interests 
of their own to promote, or friends whom they desired to 
benefit, or it may be enemies whom they were willing to 
injure, have uniformly exercised their power for local or 
personal objects, unchecked by a control, which in this respect 
could onty be nominal. Some recent proceedings of the Home 
Government would seem also almost to have assumed, that the 
practice thus pursued was right in principle, though it might 
be wrongly carried out, since the Government has offered to 
relinquish to the Colonial Legislature the future control of 
these lands, or at least of the funds arising from their disposal. 
It still, however, appears that the principle, no less than the 
working of the former method, was erroneous. There can 
surely be nothing in the fact, that the Crown has granted to 
one person, or to any number of persons, a certain portion of 
land in any colony which can give to those persons any right 
to dispose of the land which has not been granted to them : 
but rather the first grantees, having had their share of the 
land, are less entitled to any voice in the disposal of the 
remainder than the other citizens of the empire. The only 
rights which they can possess are of precisely the same character 
and extent as those possessed by any other subject of the 
Crown ; a right to demand that these lands shall be adminis- 
tered in such a manner as to promote the prosperity of the 
colony, and to advance the interests of the empire. These 
objects, properly regarded, are identical, though experience 
has amply shown that the one may be pursued at the expense 
of the other. It is for the Imperial Parliament to reconcile 
these different interests, and by providing for the greatest 
development of the resources of the colonies, to enable them 
to offer a market for the manufactures, and a home for the 
surplus population of the United Kingdom. For this purpose 
the acquisition of land in the colonies should be facilitated, 
and the funds produced by their sale should be employed, not 
merely in the execution of the public works, which are now 
so essential, but in encouraging and providing for an exten- 
sive emigration. The funds thus produced would then be 


applied to purposes in which the mother country and the 
colonies would be equally interested. 

And the same reasons exist for vesting in the Imperial 
Parliament the application of remedies for past mismanage- 
ment in the disposal of these lands. I should be far from 
recommending any needless interference with merely local 
matters, which in almost every case are most effectually pro- 
vided for by those who are immediately conversant with 
them. This, however, is not merely a local matter. If re- 
garded solely as it affects the present inhabitants of the colonies 
it is a matter of comparative unimportance. The present 
position of these countries, in reference to their unoccupied 
land, derives its significance and import from the fact, that it 
not merely retards the prosperity of the thousands by whom 
they are now peopled, but that it prevents the millions, to 
whom they might eventually afford an asylum, from enjoying 
the advantages to which they are entitled. And without 
desiring to undervalue the importance of these possessions, 
I may perhaps venture to say, that if Parliament will not 
interpose its authority for the accomplishment of these 
objects, if it will not devise means of cure for the evils which 
the Imperial Government has caused or permitted, and at the 
same time provide effectual securities against similar evils for 
the future, the North American Provinces must be nearly 
valueless to the empire. 

I am induced to believe that this view of the subject is 
entertained by the more numerous and intelligent part of the 
colonists themselves. The demands made by the Assemblies 
of Upper Canada and New Brunswick to be invested with 
the control of this property were not founded upon any asser- 
tion of the separate and independent right of the colony to 
such control. It was admitted by many of those who took 
the lead in urging this claim, that the administration of the 
property belonged of right to the Imperial Legislature. But 
when that Legislature refused or neglected to exercise its 
rights, and tacitly delegated its powers to colonial authorities, 
it was then demanded, and with much apparent reasonable- 
ness, that the colonial authority exercising these powers should 
be the legislature of the Province, and not an irresponsible 
executive. The colonists however would, I believe, for the 
most part acquiesce, not merely willingly, but even gratefully, 
in any measure of the Imperial Parliament asserting and 
exercising its paramount right, so as to secure the accomplish- 
ment of those important objects which can be but imperfectly 
effected by a colonial legislature. 


It must also, I think, be admitted, that the view enter- 
tained by the Colonial Assemblies, to which I have just 
referred, is well founded. And while in all the measures 
I shall have to recommend, I have proceeded upon the assump- 
tion that the Imperial Legislature will exercise its undoubted 
rights, I am also bound to recommend, that in the event of 
such a course not being deemed expedient, the whole control 
of the property should be vested in the most ample and 
unconditional maimer in the Colonial Legislature. This is 
required by every principle of justice. The United Kingdom 
has suffered only negatively by the malpractices which have 
been permitted under previous systems. The advantages to 
be derived from the possession of colonies, for the sake of 
which chiefly, if not alone, it is wise to incur the expense of 
founding and defending them, have, under the existing system, 
been enjoyed by Great Britain in a very limited and partial 
degree. But the colonists have suffered directly and most 
severely by these practices. In proportion as their interests 
might have prospered by the adoption of a wise system in the 
disposal of the public lands, they have suffered by the irregular 
and unwise methods that have been hitherto adopted, and 
they have at the same time been forbidden to apply any 
effectual remedy to the evils thus occasioned. While there- 
fore it appears to be the duty, no less than the right, of the 
Parliament of the United Kingdom to legislate upon this 
subject, it is equally their duty, if they consider such an 
exercise of their power inexpedient, to relinquish formally 
their control over this matter to the Colonial Legislature. 
At all events, if the local assembly should not legislate for 
the greatest advantage of the mother country as well as 
of the colony, it would take care that the mismanagement of 
the public lands was not, as has hitherto been the case 
under imperial management, a source of great evil to the 

I shaU now proceed to detail very briefly the practices 
which have been pursued in the disposal of the public lands 
in each of the colonies ; to describe the general character of 
the results which they have produced ; to suggest measures 
of remedy for the evils thus occasioned ; and to offer a plan 
for the future disposal of all the land yet remaining in the 
hands of the Government, as well as of such as may be re- 
invested in the Crown by the operation of the measures which 
I shall suggest. 



The exact area of the Province of Lower Canada is as yet Lower 
undetermined. Bounded to the south by the States of the Canada. 
Union and the Province of New Brunswick, it has no defined 
limit to the north, and little is known of the capabilities of 
that part of the country. The surveyed portion is divided 
into seigniories and townships. The land comprised in the 
seigniorial districts amounts to about 8,300,000 acres, and the 
surveyed lands in the townships amount to 6,169,963 acres. 
Of the former the whole has been granted by the Crown, 
subject to an obligation to concede to actual settlers ; and 
4,300,000 acres have been thus conceded. The quantity of 
land disposed of for other than public purposes in the town- 
ships is about 3,500,000 acres. 

The methods of granting the public lands of this Provmce, 
founded upon instructions from the Home Government or 
resolutions of the Governor in Council, have been numerous, 
and they have widely differed in character and object. 

All grants by the French government prior to the conquest 
were made upon one uniform system. Seigniories, as they 
were termed, were created in favour of certain individuals of 
property or influence, who were bound to grant, or, as it was 
termed, concede, a specified portion of the seigniory to any 
applicant. The profit of the seigniors was derived from the 
payment of a small rent ; from certain services which the 
tenant or censitaire was bound to perform ; from a twelfth 
of the corn ground at the seigniorial mill ; and from a fine 
upon every mutation of the property otherwise than by 

When the country fell into the hands of the English Govern- 
ment, lands were at first granted in free and common socage, 
subject apparently to no conditions, but with a reservation 
of a right on the part of the Crown to resume the whole or 
any part of the grant if required for military purposes. The 
quantity to be granted to any individual was fixed by regula- 
tions issued by the Lords Commissioners of Trade and Planta- 
tions in 1763, and was to be limited to 100 acres for each 
master or mistress of a family, and 50 acres for each white 
person or person of colour composing the family, with an 
exceptional power in the governor to increase this amount 
by 1,000 acres. The terms of the grant were made thus 
favourable in order to attract settlers from the other British 
North American colonies, now forming the United States. In 
1775 these regulations were superseded by instructions from 


Lower England, following the Quebec Act of 1774, which restored the 
Canada. French laws and language. These instructions directed that 
all future grants should be made in fief and seigniory, in the 
same manner as those which had been made by the French 
prior to the conquest. Under these instructions three seig- 
niories were created. In 1786 fresh instructions were issued 
by the British Government, addressed to Lord Dorchester, 
directing that grants should be made, in certain fixed pro- 
portions, to the refugee loyalists from the United States, and 
to the officers and privates of the 84th regiment, a colonial 
corps raised during the revolutionary war ; such grants to 
be held under the Crown as seignior, and to be subject to the 
incidents of the seigniorial tenure. I could not discover what 
quantity of land had been granted under these instructions. 
The whole, or nearly the whole, of the grants were situated 
in that part of the Province which afterwards became Upper 
Canada ; and if, which is doubtful, the grants were ever 
subject to the incidents of the feudal tenure, these were 
relinquished in the new state of things introduced by the 
Constitutional Act. 

After the Act of 1791, which separated the Province of 
Quebec into the two Provinces of Lower and Upper Canada, 
fresh instructions were issued, which, with regard to the 
quantit}'^ of land to be granted, were similar to those of 1763. 
By these a quantity was fixed as the ordinary measure of 
a grant, and the same power of making an exceptional addi- 
tional grant was conferred upon the Governor. But certain 
duties of settlement were required to be attached as a con- 
dition to every grant, in default of the performance of which 
the land granted was to revert to the Crown. These instruc- 
tions continued in force till 1826, being in substance, and 
with only slight and altogether unimportant variations in 
form, addressed to every Governor, from Sir Alured Clarke 
to Lord Dalhousie. 

Under these instructions, the practices introduced by the 
Governor and Council were, 

1. The system of leaders and associates described by 
Mr. Davidson, under which, by an ingenious construction, or 
rather evasion of the instructions, 1,200 acres were granted 
to each of from 10 to 40 applicants ; it being perfectly 
notorious, and within the personal knowledge of several of the 
Executive Council, that the object and result of the scheme 
was to throw into the hands of one of the applicants, termed 
the leader, the whole, or nearly the whole, of the enormous 
quantities thus granted. With this practice, in fact, the 


^^istory of the settlement of the townships of Lower Canada Lower 
commences. The first grant was made to Mr. Dunn, who Canada, 
obtained the whole of the township of Dunham. No precise 
information could be obtained as to this particular grant ; 
but it appeared that the associates, as they were termed, in 
this case were persons who really desired to obtain land for 
the purpose of settlement, and that Mr. Dunn, as the leader, 
assisted them with the means of establishing themselves, look- 
ing for his remuneration to the increased value which their 
industry must give to the remainder of the land. This town- 
ship is, I believe, at the present time well settled. 

It was indeed to be expected, that a practice so palpably 
opposed to the spirit, and even to the letter of those Royal 
Instructions under cover of which it was pursued, would owe 
its origin to some circumstance really tending to advance the 
settlement of the country ; but the plan was too profitable 
to be allowed to cease with the circumstances out of which it 
arose. It afforded apparently so easy a method of obtaining 
large tracts of fertile, and as it was deemed valuable land at 
a very trifhng expense, that its abandonment could hardly 
be expected. The practice was accordingly reduced to a 
system ; and during the administration of one Governor, 
Sir R. S. Milnes, and under the same six members of the 
Executive Council who constituted the land board, 1,425,000 
acres were granted to about 60 individuals. The profusion of 
this land-granting board was rewarded by the Duke of Port- 
land by grants of nearly 120,000 acres of land, rather less 
than 48,000 acres being granted to the Governor, and rather 
less than 12,000 acres to each of the executive councillors of 
which it was composed. 

Even during the period, however, within which these grants 
were made, the grantees began to discover that the very great 
facility with which land could be acquired, rendered its posses- 
sion well nigh valueless. To settle their grants was impossible 
without a large immediate outlay, for the purpose of afford- 
ing to the settlers the means of communicating with each 
other, and with a market. This work, however, could be 
undertaken by no one individual with effect, unless the other 
grantees across whose lands the road must pass joined in the 
work ; and even had this been done, the practice of making 
Crown and clergy reserves, and thus withholding from settle- 
ment two-sevenths of every township, imposed upon the 
proprietor of the remaining land so much additional expense 
for which he could never expect any return. The grants, too, 
were so utterly disproportioned to the population and wealth 


Lower of the Province, that even if all the grantees had set to work 
Canada, jn good faith to settle their lands according to the terms of 
the grant, they must have been stopped by their inability to 
obtain settlers. In fact, even at the present moment, includ- 
ing squatters, and after nearly 2,000,000 acres have been 
disposed of in other ways, there is scarcely in the whole town- 
ship land of the Province a population sufficient to settle 
these grants in the proportion of one family to every 1,200 
acres. A few townships on the American frontier were settled 
from the United States. The remainder were either left 
entirely waste, or were abandoned by their proprietors, after 
a short trial had proved that any expense incurred in the 
attempt to improve them must necessarily prove a total loss. 

2. After 1806 no new townships were granted ; and the 
grants, which were very few in number, were almost entirely 
in lots of 200 acres each to actual settlers. 

3. From 1814 grants were made under location tickets, 
with conditions of settlement. These conditions at first 
required, that in addition to the erection of a house, and the 
clearing and cultivating four acres of land on the grant, the 
settler should actually reside upon his lot for three years. 
This last condition was subsequently abandoned, and the 
conditions imposed amounted virtually only to a requisition 
that the grantee should build a hut and chop four acres of 
wood before a patent for his grant issued. 

This practice continued till 1826, when instructions were 
issued from the Lords of the Treasury, establishing a system 
of sale by auction, the purchase-money being payable by four 
annual instalments, without interest. Under these regula- 
tions only such lands were open to purchasers as the Governor, 
on the recommendation of the Commissioner of Crown lands, 
should select for that purpose. The instructions also per- 
mitted a sale to actual settlers of a limited quantity, subject 
to what was termed a quit-rent, but which was, in fact, the 
payment of interest at five per cent, upon the estimated value 
of the land. 

In 1831, instructions were issued by Lord Goderich, requir- 
ing the purchase-money to be paid by half-yearly instalments 
with interest ; but these instructions have, it appears, never 
been obeyed, the Governor, upon the representation of the 
Commissioner of Crown lands, directing that the former 
practice of receiving payment by annual instalments without 
interest, should be continued. 

In 1837, instructions were issued by Lord Glenelg requiring 
payment of the purchase-money at the time of sale. These 


I Instructions remain in force at present, but no sales have as Lower 
yet taken place under them. Canada. 

Concurrently with the various systems thus briefly described, 
there have been numerous exceptional grants, chiefly in reward 
of public services. To the militia who served during the 
revolutionary war, 232,281 acres were granted ; to the 
executive councillors and the Governor above referred to, 
about 120,000 acres ; to the militia who served during the 
war with the United States in 1812, about 217,840 ; but in 
addition to this amount of actual grants, there remain after 
nearly 20 years have elapsed since these grants were first 
promised, unsettled but valid claims on the part of these 
last-named militiamen, to the amount of probably 500,000 
acres. Grants have also been made to ofiicers and soldiers 
of the British army, either in the form of direct grants, or of 
a remission of the purchase-money ; to commuted pensioners ; 
to Mr. Felton and others under orders from Lord Bathurst ; 
to two individuals in lieu of their salary, as chairmen of the 
quarter sessions, for which the Assembly of the Province 
refused to provide. There has also been an exceptional sale 
in England to the British North American Land Company of 
nearly 800,000 acres. 

In addition to all the methods of granting land described 
above, the plan of Crown and clergy reserves demands a 
separate notice. 

By the Constitutional Act of 1791, it was enacted that 
a reserve for the support of a Protestant clergy should be 
made in respect of every grant under the authority of the 
Crown, equal in value, as nearly as the same could be esti- 
mated, to one-seventh of the land granted ; and that no 
patent for any grant should be valid unless it contained 
a specification of the land reserved in respect of the granted 
land. This Act was the origin of the clergy reserves. The 
Crown reserves were the result of a plan of the Executive 
Council, suggested, it is said, by the President of the Council, 
a refugee loyalist from the United States, who seeing that the 
disputes which had terminated in the independence of the 
thirteen provinces, arose ostensibly out of questions of revenue, 
imagined that all such disputes might be avoided in the 
Canadas, by creating an independent source of revenue 
sufficient to provide for the expenses of the government 
without any necessity for having recourse to the imposition 
of taxes. For this purpose he proposed that a reserve should 
be made for the Crown equal to that for the clergy ; and it 
was imagined that as the settlement of the country, advanced. 


Lower this reserve would yield a large annual revenue, and obviate 
Canada. qI\ questions of taxation, by rendering the Government in- 
dependent of the people. Had the disposal of the public 
lands been conducted with prudence, and had the Govern- 
ment performed its part towards the improvement of the 
country, by assisting in opening roads, and by giving to the 
settlers efficient institutions, it is possible that the objects of 
both of these reserves might have been accomplished, although 
at a price far larger and more burdensome than any taxation 
could have been. But, with few and unfrequent exceptions, 
the Government took no means to forward the settlement of 
the country, or to provide for any of the wants of the settlers. 
The crown and clergy reserves were not merely allowed to lie 
waste, but they were carefully disposed in such a manner as to 
separate most completely the actual settlers, and thus to 
obstruct in the greatest possible degree the progress of settle- 
ment. Added to this, the improvidence which, as has been 
seen, marked the whole proceedings of the Government in 
reference to the public lands, and the recklessness with which it 
drew upon this fund to reward services, or to satisfy claimants, 
diminished the value of these reserves in common with that 
of all the other lands of the Province, and rendered futile 
every hope of drawing a revenue from them. The injury 
therefore which they caused to the colony, was not com- 
pensated by any benefit to the Crown or the clergy, and after 
existing for 35 years, the Crown reserves were at last virtually 
abandoned when the system of sale was introduced. The 
clergy reserves however still continued, until in 1831 an Act 
was passed by the Imperial Legislature, authorizing the sale 
of one-fourth of these reserves, at the rate of not more than 
100,000 acres annually. 

The present is not the place to enter into those aggravations 
of the unpopularity of the clergy reserves, which arose from 
the object to which they were destined. But the history of 
these reserves, from their being first made, down to the present 
time, is too characteristic an illustration of the system pursued 
in the management of the public lands to be passed over. 
By the Act of 1791, under the authority of which these reserves 
were made, it was directed that ' whenever any grant of lands 
within either of the said Provinces shall hereafter be made by 
or under the authority of His Majesty, his heirs or successors, 
there shall at the same time be made, in respect of the same, 
a proportionate allotment and appropriation of lands for the 
above-mentioned purpose (the support of a Protestant clergy), 
within the township or parish to which such lands so to be 


granted, shall appertain or be annexed, or as nearly adjacent Lower 
thereto as circumstances will admit, and that no such grant Canada, 
shall be valid or effectual, unless the same shall contain 
a specification of the lands so alloted and appropriated in 
respect of the lands to be thereby granted, and that such lands 
so allotted and appropriated shall be, as nearly as the circum- 
stances and the nature of the case will admit, of the like 
quality as the lands in respect of which the same are so allotted 
and appropriated, and shall be, as nearly as the same can be 
estimated at the time of making such grant, equal in value to 
the seventh part of the land so granted.' When the business 
of land granting commenced under the instructions given to 
the Governor of the Province in 1791, it became a question in 
what manner the provision quoted above could be most 
effectually complied with. Various plans were suggested for 
the purpose by the surveyor-general ; and the Executive 
Council, to whom all these plans were referred, decided in 
favour of one which proposed that every township should be 
laid out in lots of 200 acres, of which every seventh lot should 
be reserved for the clergy, making at the same time another 
equal reservation for the Crown. Under this system there 
were first two lots open for settlement, then one lot reserved 
for the clergy, then two lots open for settlement, then one lot 
reserved for the Crown, then one lot open for settlement, and 
so on throughout the township. In this way the reserves for 
the clergy were so intermixed with the lots, which were either 
open for grant, or reserved for the Crown, as to ensure their 
being, in the average, of equal value. It would seem, however, 
that in this arrangement both the surveyor-general and the 
Executive Council misconstrued the clause of the Act which 
directed the making of these reserves ; since even assuming 
that the reserve for the Crown was a grant by the Crown, 
which it clearly was not, the reserve for the clergy, being one- 
seventh of a township, of which- only the remaining six- 
sevenths were open to grant, was equal to a sixth instead of 
a seventh, of the land granted. Upon this original error was 
grafted one yet more glaring. The practice originally pursued 
by the Crown in the disposal of the waste public lands of the 
Province, was, as I have described, to grant nominally to 
many, but in reality to one person, in one deed, whole, or half, 
or quarter townships, exclusive only of the Crown and clergy 
reserves, and amounting therefore to five -sevenths of the 
entire township, or of the smaller portion granted. In the 
patents by which these grants were made, however, the whole 
of the land which had been appropriated for the clergy in the 


Lower portion of the township granted, was specified as the allot- 
Canada. jnent and appropriation for the support of a Protestant clergy 
in respect of that grant. Thus, assuming a township to con- 
tain 70,000 acres, divided into 3,500 lots of 200 acres each, 
which is rather more than the average dimensions of a town- 
ship, but is assumed as the most simple amount for the 
purpose of illustration, the appropriation in respect of the 
clergy reserve amounted to one-seventh, or 500 lots, com- 
prising 10,000 acres, and the Crown reserve to an equal 
quantity, leaving to be granted 2,500 lots, or 50,000 acres. 
But in the patent by which this last quantity was granted, 
and which recited the words of the Act, directing the specifica- 
tion of the reserve for the clergy, the whole 500 lots were 
specified ; and though of equal quality with the granted land, 
and one-fifth in amount, were described as being equal in 
value to one-seventh of the land granted, as nearly as the 
same could be estimated. By what process of reasoning the 
surveyor-general could have arrived at the conclusion, that 
one-fifth and one-seventh were equal, it is not easy to deter- 
mine ; but the result was, that up to 1826 the reserve for the 
clergy was equal in value to one-fifth of the whole land granted 
by the Crown. 

When the system of sale introduced by the Treasury In- 
structions of 1826 came into operation, the lots first sold were 
in most instances the Crown reserves. But here a difficulty 
arose. When the purchaser, having completed the payment 
of his purchase-money, applied for patent, these sales were 
considered by the Crown lawyers as equivalent to grants, and 
under the Constitutional Act no grant from the Crown could 
possess any validity unless it contained a specification of the 
reserve for the clergy in respect of the particular lot com- 
prised in it. The whole of the reserve, however, which had 
been made for this purpose in the township within which 
these lands were situated, had been described in former 
grants ; and it therefore became necessary to make a fresh 
reserve for the purpose. This was a natural consequence of 
the previous error ; but it will hardly be believed that the 
fresh reserve, made by the surveyor-general, was again equal 
to one-fifth of the land granted, or 40, instead of 28^ acres, 
upon a lot of 200 acres ; so that under this practice the reserve 
for the clergy, taking as before the case of a township of 
70,000 acres, would amount to 12,000 acres, being the origmal 
reserve of 10,000 acres, and 2,000 acres upon the sale of the 
reserve for the Crown in that township. But the reserve did 
not stop even here. When the Act of the Imperial Parliament, 


luthorizing the sale of the clergy reserves, came into operation, Lower 
md these reserves were brought into the market, the present Capada. 
ittorney-general, whose office it was to prepare the drafts of 

i/tents, conceived that the Constitutional Act must be con- 
sidered as applying also to these grants ; and that, therefore, 
the patent must contain a specification of a reserve, even in 
respect of these reserves. It is to be presumed that upon 

point of law such as this the attorney-general was in the 
right ; but it certainly appears rather singular, that sales 
mder the authority of an Act of Parliament should be invalid, 

jcause they did not comply with a provision in a previous 
Let specifically referring to grants under the authority of the 

:own. But however this might be, it was necessary that this 
'opinion should be acted upon, and a fresh reserve was made. 
Again, one-fifth was reserved, instead of one-seventh, and 
thus, to follow the same illustration, the reserves would be 
equal to 14,000 acres. It is obvious too that the system would 
not stop here. There must be a fresh reserve upon the 4,000 
acres of additional reserves when they are sold, and again 
upon the 800 acres which would be reserved upon them ; and 
this would be repeated until the process could be continued 
no longer. Supposing the process to be continued to this 
point, the reserve for the clergy would be equal to a fourth 
instead of a seventh of the granted land, and the clear excess 
would be 75 per cent. As the whole of the clergy reserves 
are not yet sold, it amounts at present only to 50 per cent., 
or 227,000 upon 446,000 acres. 

But the misconstruction or violation of the law with regard 
to this property has not stopped here. I have already stated, 
that under the Act authorizing the sale of these reserves, 
a quantity equal to one-fourth of the whole reserve was to 
be sold at the rate of not more than 100,000 acres per annum. 
Under this Act 299,811 acres have been sold out of 673,567, 
or considerably more than three -sevenths, and the sales in one 
year amounted to 111,000 acres. Assuming however, that 
only so much of the land specified as clergy reserve, as is 
specified in conformity with the provisions of the Constitu- 
tional Act, is really such reserve, then the amount sold is very 
nearly two-thirds instead of one-fourth of the whole. From 
the evidence of the Rev. Mr. Sewell it appears that these sales 
were made without the least regard to the interests of the 
clergy, and that the property of the Church has been need- 
lessly sacrificed ; and from that of Mr. Davidson, that the 
greatest part of the land so sold has passed into the hands 
of speculators, who have purchased with the sole view of 

1362.3 E 


Lower deriving a profit from the anticipated rise in the value of land. 

Canada, From the first to the last, the proceedings in respect of these 
reserves have been marked by irregularities and errors; 
which, although not greater than have prevailed with regard 
to all the public lands of the Province, are more striking, 
because, in this instance, the proceedings have been in viola- 
tion of a plain and positive law. 

To what extent and in what manner the settlement of the 
Province has been retarded by means of this profusion and 
irregularity in the granting of land, and of the practice of 
withholding land from grant, may be gathered from a com- 
parison of the population of the township districts with the 
amount of land granted, and from the evidence of almost every 
witness examined on the subject. In the absence of all precise 
statistical details, the former can only be ascertained approxi- 
mately ; but it appears that the proportion is about nine 
inhabitants to a square mile. Even this, however, exhibits 
but partially the degree to which the various methods pursued 
in the disposal of public lands have retarded the settlement 
of the Province, because it assumes that the population is 
equally distributed over the whole surface. This is far from 
being the case. In some townships upon the American fron- 
tier, the inhabitants of which have participated in the advan- 
tages derivable from the roads and markets of the United 
States, the population is very considerably more dense. 
Excluding from consideration these townships, which in fact 
are indebted for their comparative prosperity to the extent 
to which they have been withdrawn from the influence of the 
colonial administration, it may be doubted whether the aver- 
age population is four to a square mile, and in some extensive 
and fertile tracts, the whole, or nearly the whole of which 
has been granted by the Crown, it is not one to every 10 square 
miles. It is needless to refer to any evidence for the 
purpose of proving that such a population is poor and 
unprogressive. The evidence, however, of Mr. Kerr, Mr. 
Russell, Mr. Stayner, and others, furnishes in detail some 
of the more striking results of the practices I have de- 
scribed, and exhibits the manner in which these results have 
been produced. 

I shall hereafter, when I have described the systems of 
land-granting pursued in the other North American colonies, 
to which the labours of this commission extended, advert 
more particularly to those evils which in all cases have arisen 
from the neglect and improvidence that have characterized 
this department of the administration. But I must here refer 


^H thrown in the way of the poorer applicants for land in con- <^anada. 

^^™ sequence of the central character of the system of government 
established in Lower Canada, and the want of any efficient 
local agency for the management of this branch of the public 
service. With the exception of the attempts which were made 
to remedy this inconvenience by the establishment of land 
boards prior to the division of the Province, and in later years 
by the appointment of township agents, the operation of both 
of which was temporary and partial, no right to occupy land 
could be obtained except by means of a personal application 
to the Governor at Quebec. And even when by means of 
these local agencies, a qualified and incomplete right of 
occupancy was obtained, a satisfactory title to the land could 
only be procured at the seat of government. To the majority 
of the settlers this was equivalent to an absolute refusal of 
a grant, since the expense of a journey to the capital of the 
Province, and of a residence there for the period required in 
order to obtain a grant or a title, was greater than the 
purchase -money of the land would have been. Added to this, 
the time occupied in obtaining a patent, even when an agent 
was employed, was on the average 15 months. Numbers con- 
sequently who were disposed to settle, preferred occupying 
the first vacant lot without title, trusting to the justice or the 
negligence of the Government for the undisturbed enjoyment 
of whatever improvements they might effect. Numbers, too, 
it cannot be doubted, preferred emigrating to the United 
States, where land might be obtained, at a higher nominal 
price indeed, but with a certainty and facility which in fact 
made it much cheaper. 

The surveys of the township lands also were so imperfect 
and erroneous as to add very considerably to the practical 
difficulties in the way of settlement. Instances have occurred 
in which the lots professed to be granted had no existence 
except on the diagram in the surveyor-general's office. Yet 
more numerous were the cases in which a person receiving 
a grant of 200 acres, found that the lot assigned to him con- 
tained from 40 to 90 acres more or less than its assumed 
dimensions. In many instances the grant was without a 
boundary, or its figures and boundaries were totally different 
from those which, by reference to the map, would be found 
to have been assigned to it. It will be obvious that a very 
general uncertainty and distrust must have been produced by 
these errors, and that the desire of improvement in almost 
every settler must have been checked by fears, lest a more 

E 2 


Lower accurate survey should demonstrate that the land which he 
Canada, j^^^j cleared and cultivated belonged to some other individual 
or to the Cro\\Ti. 

In making these last statements, it is due, however, to the 
individual by whom the office of surveyor-general is at present 
held, to state, that he cannot be held responsible for the 
errors I have described. From the system pursued originally, 
the greater part of the surveys were made by persons who 
were only nominally under the control of his department. 
The surveyor employed for the purpose was paid by the 
person to whom the land, when surveyed, was to be granted, 
and those surveyors were employed who would contract for 
the performance of the survey upon the cheapest terms. 
Many professed surveys, therefore, were made by persons 
who never had been on the ground. The outlines of the 
township were run ; but the interior plan was filled up entirely 
either according to the fancy of the surveyor or from the 
report of the Indians or hunters who were acquainted with 
the general character of the land included within the limits 
of the township. And even when the survey was performed 
under the direction of the surveyor-general, the very inadequate 
scale upon which his office is maintained rendered it impossible 
that he should exercise any effectual supervision over his 
subordinates. It is the more due to Mr. Bouchette to make 
this statement, because during the 30 years that he has filled 
the office of surveyor-general, he appears ahvays to have 
laboured zealously according to his means to advance the 
interests and to facilitate the settlement of the Province. 


upper "jjjjj g^j.QQ^ Qf ^\^Q surveyed parts of this Province is stated 

to be 17,653,544 acres. Out of this there have been reserved 
for roads 450,000 acres, for the clergy 2,395,687 ; there have 
been granted and appropriated 13,660,838 (total, 16,506,525), 
and there remain to be granted 1,147,019. 

In the evidence of the chief clerk in the surveyor-general's 
office, it is stated that rather more than 1,500,000 acres remain 
at the disposal of the Crown ; and by a return subsequently 
furnished, this amount is stated at 1,597,019 acres. From 
a careful examination of the return itself, it, however, appears, 
that there is not more than the amount stated above. The 
error in the return has obviously arisen from its not including 
the reservation for roads in the enumeration of the granted 
and appropriated lands. 


The methods of land-granting pursued in this Province Uppei' 
ihave been as various as those described with reference to Canada. 
Lower Canada. Up to 1791, Upper Canada formed a part of 
the Province of Quebec, and the disposal of public lands was 
successively regulated by the instructions of 1763, of 1775, 
and of 1786, adverted to in the foregoing sketch of the systems 
of land-granting in Lower Canada. 

After the separation of the Province, the public lands in 
Upper Canada were granted under instructions from the 
Home Government identical with those described with regard 
jto Lower Canada, the chief object of which was to provide 
against evils similar to those which had been experienced in 
the other North American Colonies from excessive grants to 
individuals, and which therefore established 200 acres as the 
ordinary extent of a grant. These instructions continued in 
force, without any alteration, till 1825. 

The grants to officers and privates of the 84th regiment of 
foot, and to the refugee loyalists from the United States and 
their sons and daughters (who are termed U. E. loyalists), 
under the instructions of 1786, were, subsequent to the 
division of the Province, to be made in Upper Canada, and 
ever since that period grants have been and continue to be 
made to these individuals according to the tenor of those 
instructions. During the continuance of the same instruc- 
tions, but, it would seem, in direct violation of their spirit, 
grants of 1,200 acres each were made to individuals of various 
classes, to magistrates, barristers, &c., &c., as described in 
the evidence of Mr. Radenhurst. Grants, of 5,000 acres each, 
were also made to executive and some legislative councillors, 
and of 1,200 acres each to their children. Attempts appear 
to have been made, at a very early period, to introduce 
a system of granting whole townships to individuals who 
would undertake their settlement, similar, in many respects, 
to the system of leaders and associates described in reference 
to Lower Canada. After 10 townships had been granted in 
this manner, the number of applications was however so great 
as to determine the Council not merely to abandon the system 
for the future, but to rescind the grants which had been made. 
This was accordingly done ; but by way of compensation to 
the persons to whom these townships had been assigned for 
the trouble and expense they had incurred in attempting to 
fulfil the conditions of the grant, each grantee was entitled 
to receive 1,200 acres. This compensation was accepted by all 
except Mr. Berczy, to whom the township of jMarkham had 
been assigned, and who, having applied himself in good faith 


Upper to fulfil the conditions of the grant, was ruined by the decision 
Canada. Qf ^j^g Council to rescind it. 

From 1791 to 1804 it would appear that grants were alto- 
gether gratuitous, and that no fees were payable except to 
an amount just sufficient to compensate the various officers 
concerned in passing the grant for their trouble. In the 
course of the latter year a scale of fees, proportioned to the 
extent of the grant, was introduced by an order of the Governor 
in Council, upon the payment of which almost any one was 
at liberty to obtain a grant. 

The introduction of this scale of fees, from which, however, 
all grants to privileged persons, such as U. E. loyalists, militia, 
&c., &c., are stated to have been exempt, was the first attempt 
at system, and continued in force till 1819. In 1818, in 
addition to the payment of these fees, the performance of 
settlement duties was also required, as a preliminary con- 
dition of all grants, whether subject to the payment of fees 
or made to privileged persons. Under this scale of fees there 
were granted, in the 15 years, 388,263 acres. 

In 1819 another scale of fees, nearly double in amount, was 
introduced. Under this scale, scarcely any grants were made, 
and it was in 1820 superseded by another scale of fees, which 
upon all grants above 500 acres amounted to 55. per acre 
upon the grant. The Order in Council fixing this scale autho- 
rized the grant of 50 acres to indigent settlers without any 
fees. Under this authority, gratuitous grants of 50 acres 
each, to the amount of about 40,000 acres in the whole, were 
made ; and grants were also made of larger quantities, sub- 
ject to the payment of fees according to the scale, amounting 
in the whole to 72,228 acres. 

In 1825 regulations were issued by the Lords of the Treasury 
in England directing what was termed the sale of land upon 
quit-rents, but what was in reality the grant of land, subject 
to the payment of interest at five per cent, upon its estimated 
value. Under this system 15,100 acres were granted. 

Up to this period all grants of land had been made at the 
discretion of the Governor in Council, not merely so far as 
related to the quantity and position of the land granted, but 
also as to whether the party applying should receive any grant 
at all. The surveyor-general, under whose general direction 
the whole land of the Province was placed, was the individual 
by whom, in most instances, this discretion was exercised, 
since all applicants were compelled to obtain from him a 
certificate that the lot for which they applied was vacant 
and might be granted ; and in all cases the adverse opinion 


of this officer was sufficient to prevent any grant from being Upper 
imade. In 1827 a Commissioner of Crown lands was appointed, C^^^^^* 
"who was directed by instructions from the Lords of the 
Treasury, dated July 1827, to assume the management of the 
whole of the waste and migranted lands of the Crown. By 
the same instructions, all public land was to be sold by auction, 
and to be paid for by instalments without interest. Under 
this system, slightly modified in 1833 by requiring the pay- 
ment of interest upon the unpaid portion of the purchase- 
money, rather more than 100,000 acres of Crown lands have 
been sold. In Upper Canada neither the instructions of Lord 
Goderich in 1831, nor those of Lord Glenelg in 1837, have 
been complied with. 

There have been two cases in this colony in which the 
Government has delegated to others the disposal of its waste 
lands. A very extensive tract in the London and Western 
districts has been placed under the entire superintendence of 
Colonel Talbot, and the whole of the Crown reserves, and 
1,100,000 acres in one block, in the Huron district, have been 
sold to the Canada Company. In the former case the dele- 
gation was more direct than in the latter, which took the 
form of a sale. The powers of Colonel Talbot, with regard to 
the whole of the tract he has been allowed to settle, are, how- 
ever, apparently quite as absolute as those of the Canada 
Company with regard to the land they have purchased ; and 
although there was not, so far as I could learn, any such 
stipulation in the arrangement with Colonel Talbot as should 
have exempted the land which he had not actually settled 
from the operation of any subsequent regulations framed by 
Government, yet the whole of the land thus circumstanced 
has been tacitly excluded from the operation of the Treasury 
instructions of 1827, and of those subsequently introduced. 
The sale to the Canada Company, though in form an excep- 
tional method of disposing of public land, was in effect, and 
was intended to be, a delegation of the powers of Govern- 
ment in this important particular to a private company, 
prompted, apparently, by the obvious ill success of the pro- 
ceedings of the Government, and by the hope that persona 
having a deep pecuniary stake in the result of their measures 
would be more careful, and therefore more successful in their 
operations. The result of both these experiments has been so 
far fortunate, that settlement appears to have proceeded with 
somewhat more of rapidity and regularity upon the land thus 
disposed of than upon that which remained under the control 
of the officers of the Crown. 


Upper The quantity of Crown lands disposed of, or appropriated, 

Canada, according to the different plans described above, amounts in 
the whole, including the sale to the Canada Company, to 
rather more than 13 1 millions of acres. Of this amount there 
have been granted, subject to the regulations from time to 
time specially introduced by the Executive Council and the 
Home Government, not quite 600,000 acres, or considerably 
less than a 20th part of the whole ; and with the exception 
of certainly less than 600,000 acres, all the granted land, or 
13,000,000 acres, was disposed of prior to, or in satisfaction 
of claims which arose before, the year 1825, at which time 
the population was under 150,000. But the regulations above 
described, various as they were, do not comprise the whole 
of the modes by which land was disposed of by the Govern- 
ment of the Province, or by the authorities at home, whether 
the Lords of the Treasury, or the Secretary of State for the 
Colonies. The grant of 48,500 acres to Colonel Talbot, for 
settling a part of the enormous tract of land placed under his 
sole control and management, and the grant to the laird of 
M'Nab, by the Government of the colony, the grant of 12,000 
acres to Dr. Mountain, the Bishop of Quebec, of a similar 
amount to the heirs of General Brock, and of 3,000 acres to 
Mr. Shireff, are, I am inclined to believe, only faint and 
inadequate specimens of the exceptional dealings in respect 
of rules, so little defined as apparently scarcely to allow of 
any proceeding being regarded as exceptional to them ; 
although, from the general carelessness of the system, these 
were the only instances elicited in the course of my inquiries. 
In this Province also reserves have been made for the clergy 
and the Crown under the same authority, and in the same 
manner as in Lower Canada. But though here also the 
same original error in laying out the land to be set apart for 
the clergy was committed, yet, as the surveyor-general, by 
whom the specification to be inserted in the patent was 
prepared, followed the terms of the Act, and described a 
quantity only equal to a seventh of the land granted, there has 
been no such complication of errors as I have described in 
reference to the Lower Province. The land set apart on the 
map, and treated as clergy reserves, exceeds by one-seventh 
the amount contemplated by the Legislature, but this excess 
has never been included in any patent, and it therefore re- 
mains public property. A considerable proportion of it has been 
sold under the name of clergy reserves. This, however, is 
a mistake, which admits of an easy and satisfactory correc- 
tion. The provisions of the Act authorizing the sale of these 


reserves, have, in this colony, been strictly observed. Less Upper 
than one-fourth has been sold, and the sales have not amounted Canada. 
to 100,000 acres in any one year. 

In Upper Canada, however, the reservation and application 
of these reserves have been the source of a widely-spread and 
dangerous discontent. The purpose to which they have been 
applied has very greatly aggravated the dissatisfaction occa- 
sioned by the effects produced by their being withheld from 
settlement ; and at the same time the constant experience 
of their injurious effects upon the settlement of the Province 
has embittered the polemical strife occasioned by the exclusive 
character of their destination. It was impossible in a colony 
where so deep and universal an interest prevailed upon this 
question, while pursuing an inquiry into the operation of 
former methods of disposing of the public lands, to refrain 
from an examination into the nature of the results of this 
particular appropriation. With a view to the most detailed 
and satisfactory information upon the subject, the leading 
clergy of all denominations were examined. All of them, to 
whatever sect they belonged, confessed and lamented the in- 
juries inflicted upon the peace of the colony by these reserves. 
The Archdeacon of York, the most zealous, and certainly one 
of the most able defenders of the right of the Church of Eng- 
land ; the Catholic bishop, M'Donnell, eminent for his loyalty ; 
no less than the ministers of the different sects of Presby- 
terians, of the Methodists, and of the Congregationalists, 
stated their belief, in which everything that I could learn 
induces me fully to acquiesce, that it was vain to expect that 
the colony could be tranquil until this question was settled. 
It forms no part of the recommendations contained in this 
Report to suggest any measure by which this object might 
be accomplished, but I cannot do otherwise than point out 
the deep and pressing importance of the subject. 

In the return of granted lands accompanying this Report 
(No. 13), are included appropriations made shortly after the 
termination of the American war, to Indians of the Six Nations, 
who had abandoned the old seats of their tribe to establish 
themselves in the Province under the protection of the English 
Crown, as well as some smaller blocks of land which were 
reserved for the Indians of other tribes out of the cessions 
made by them of the land which they had formerly occupied. 
The land appropriated for the use of the Six Nations' Indians, 
consisted chiefly of 570,000 acres of fertile and advantageously 
selected land lying on each side of the Grand River, from its 
mouth to its source. At the present time, according to the 


Upper statement of Mr. Jarvis, agent for the Indians, they do not 
Canada, possess, in round numbers, more than about 200,000 acres ; 
I believe the precise amount is 187,000 acres. Of the manner 
in which the large portion they have alienated was acquired 
by the individuals into whose hands, as is stated by Mr. 
Radenhurst, it passed with the sanction of the Government 
of the colony, and nearly the whole of whom were connected 
with that Government, I could not obtain any testimony upon 
which I could feel myself justified in relying. It is, however, 
certain that the consideration paid for it was for the most 
part of merely temporary benefit to them. The Government, 
under whose guardianship the Indians were settled, and whose 
duty it should have been to provide efficient securities against 
any improvident grants, by which a provision, intended to be 
permanent, might be disposed of for inadequate or temporary 
returns, would seem, in these instances, to have neglected or 
violated its implied trust. To the extent of this alienation 
the objects of the original grant, so far as the advantage 
of the Indians was concerned, would appear to have been 
frustrated, by the same authority, and almost by the same 
individuals that made the grant. I have noticed this subject 
here for the purpose of showing that the Government of the 
colony was not more careful in its capacity of trustee of these 
lands, than it was in its general administration of the lands 
of the Province. 

But taking into consideration this and all the other methods 
by which, as appears by the evidence of Mr. Radenhurst, lands 
might be obtained in this Province, it would seem that there 
is still a large amount for the granting of which no reason 
appears, and none could be found, without separate inspec- 
tion of each of the 50,000 grants which have been made. 
The grants and appropriations in the whole appear by the 
Return No. 13 to amount, including the clergy reserves, to 

The grants and appropriations of which an account has been 
furnished are as follow : 

Clergy reserves 2,395,687 

U. E. loyalists 2,911,787 

Militia 645,509 

Under regulations of 1804 388,263 

Ditto of 1820 72,288 

Quit-rents 15,100 

Discharged soldiers and seamen .... 449,400 

Magistrates and barristers . . . . . 255,500 

Clergymen 36,900 

Carried forward 7,170,434 



Brought forward 
Executive Councillors 
Legislative ditto 
Canada Company 
Sold . . ^ 
Schools . 

Grants of officers 
Indian reserves 





ileaving altogether unaccounted for 4,658,767, or considerably 
more than one-fourth of the whole. A small proportion of 
this, less probably than a tenth, is included in the land dis- 
posed of for the Government by Colonel Talbot, under the 
authority conferred upon him. But after allowing for this 
and other possible omissions of a similar character, it is still 
difficult to understand in what manner the greater part of this 
excess has been disposed of. It is not, however, impossible 
that upon a strict inquiry, a large proportion will be found to 
be still the property of the Cro\^Ti, and that its supposed 
appropriation is the result of a practice referred to in the 
evidence of Dr. Baldwin, of putting fictitious names to favour- 
able locations upon the diagram of a township in the surveyor- 
general's office, in order that they might be reserved for 
persons who possessed some particular claims upon the favour 
of the office. From various statements made to me in the 
shape of anecdotes that could not be embodied in evidence, 
I am inclined to believe that this practice prevailed to a very 
considerable extent. It has, I doubt not, very frequently 
happened that these fictitious names have been taken for real, 
and that many of the most favourable lots in the surveyed 
townships have been thus unconsciously reserved from settle- 
ment. To what extent this has been the case it is impossible 
to determine without a thorough and efficient investigation, 
for which neither the time nor the means at my disposal 
afforded an opportunity, and which, in the existing state of 
the surveyor-general's department, it would be very difficult 
to accomplish. But whatever may have been the cause of 
the circumstance, its existence affords a forcible illustration 
of the careless and irregular practices of the land-granting 

Perhaps, however, the most striking proof of the early 
improvidence of the Government in its disposal of the waste 
lands of the Province is to be found in the fact, that from 
1763 to 1825, during which period the population had slowly 
grown up to 150,000 souls, the quantity granted or engaged 


I'pper to be granted by the Crown was upwards of 13,000,000 acres, 

Canada, ^hile during the 13 subsequent years in which the population 

increased from 150,000 to 400,000, the quantity disposed of, 

including the sale of the clergy reserves, is under 600,000 

acres. A fact such as this needs no comment. 

In the course of the inquiries which I instituted, I heard 
it frequently asserted that there had been and still were many 
irregularities in the operation of the land-granting system, of 
a vexatious and harassing character, from which the poorer 
classes of settlers especially sustained very great incon- 
venience. One class of these irregularities, referred to in 
the evidence of Dr. Baldwin, has been noticed above, and the 
evidence of the same gentleman evinces the prevalent opinion 
upon this subject. From the observations I was able to make, 
I have little doubt that these assertions were well founded ; 
but no specific instance of the sort came before me. Those 
persons residing at Toronto who had been concerned in obtain- 
ing land, possessed facilities of access to the office which freed 
them from some of the worst results of these irregularities ; 
and as they were not generally persons intending to settle 
upon their grants, they were less affected by those delays to 
which they might be subject. The persons who have felt 
these evils in the greatest degree have been settlers in remote 
and thinly-peopled districts, who had, under the circumstances, 
no means of representing their grievances to me. Only one 
instance, therefore, of actual injury alleged to be sustained 
from this cause of late years, reached me ; and that is described 
in a letter appended to the minutes of evidence, addressed 
to me at Toronto, but forwarded to me after I had left that 
place, and when consequently I had no means of inquiring 
into the truth of the complaint, or of ascertaining the cause 
to which it was attributable. From the evidence of Mr. 
Radenhurst as to the state of the surveys, and from the delay 
which, in spite of the willingness of that gentleman to afford 
me every information, I experienced in procuring the returns 
for which I applied, in consequence of the incomplete organiza- 
tion of the surveyor-general's office, and the apparent absence 
of all proper records of its transactions, I have little doubt but 
that this is by no means a solitary or uncommon instance of 
evils of this nature. In fact they appear to be inseparable 
from such a system, or rather such a want of system as that 
which I found to prevail in Upper Canada. With an establish- 
ment, inadequate at best, and for the last nine years under no 
efficient and responsible direction, it is almost a matter of 
course that these and similar irregularities should prevail. 



estimated at 8,000,000 acres. Of this amount it is assumed ^^o^^^- 
that less than 6,000,000 of acres are fit for cultivation. And 
nearly the whole of this available land is included in the 
5,750,000 acres which have been already granted. It is 
estimated by Mr. Morris, the present surveyor-general, that 
of the 2J millions of acres yet remaining at the disposal of 
the Crown, not more than one-eighth is suitable for the 
purpose of settlement. 

My task in relating the proceedings of the Government in 
reference to the disposal of the waste lands of this Province 
is necessarily much simplified by the fact, that, at a very 
early period, the Crown divested itself of nearly all the land 
in the colony available for the purpose of settlement, and that 
consequently its subsequent operations have had little effect 
upon the progress or condition of the Province. The first 
grants of land to any considerable extent appear to have been 
made under instructions from the English Government issued 
in 1760, previously to which period grants of land had been 
at the discretion of the Governor and Council, and had 
been made with a great and seemingly judicious reserve. Of 
these instructions no copy remains of record in the colony, 
and nothing certain is known of their nature. In less than 
13 years, however, after they came into operation, nearly 
8,000,000 of acres, including the whole of the island of Prince 
Edward, then part of the Province of Nova Scotia, were 
granted in blocks of from 20,000 to 150,000 acres to indi- 
viduals or companies residing or formed in England. All of 
these grants contained conditions of improvement ; but after 
some expense had been incurred by the grantees in unsuccess- 
ful endeavours to settle the extensive tracts of which they 
had been made proprietors, the land was abandoned to its 
few inhabitants or suffered to remain absolutely waste. It 
still, however, continued in the possession of the grantees, 
and the whole Province was thus effectually closed against 
emigration from the mother country or the neighbouring 
colonies. Efforts were repeatedly made upon representations 
of the local government in 1773 and in subsequent years, to 
revest these lands in the Crown by a process of escheat, but 
were as repeatedly baffled by the influence of the absentee 

Since, however, it was felt that a valuable province, such 
as Nova Scotia, ought not to be left in these circumstances, 


Nova the Government deemed it expedient to endeavour to attract 
Scotia. settlers by throwing open for location, upon advantageous 
terms, all the land yet remaining at its disposal. A plan 
was accordingly framed for the purpose by the Lords 
Commissioners of Trade and Plantations, under which the 
ungranted lands of the Province in favourable situations were 
surveyed, and public notice was given of the intentions of 
Go vermnent to dispose of such lands by sale . On the appointed 
day 83,000 acres were accordingly offered for sale, but not 
a single purchaser appeared ; no person apparently being 
Avilling to settle in a province, the prosperity of which had 
been so notoriously retarded by the early profusion of the 
Goveriunent, The same plan appears to have remained in 
force till shortly after the breaking out of the American war, 
at which time the sales were suspended, and orders were 
given to make gratuitous grants to refugee loyalists. These 
orders were speedily followed by directions to escheat the old 
excessive grants in respect of which the conditions of settle- 
ment had not been fulfilled. The execution of these directions 
was resisted by the proprietors of these grants, but very large 
tracts were nevertheless resumed, and 4,000 families were 
settled upon new grants. In these new grants, however, were 
included the whole of the escheated land, and thus a second 
time the Crown placed nearly the whole available land of the 
Province out of its own control. 

In 1790, for reasons which do not appear, all further grants 
of land were forbidden, and this prohibition remained in 
force till 1808. This restriction was, however, frequently 
evaded by the issue of licences of occupation to actual settlers ; 
and those who were desirous to settle, but could not obtain 
a licence, squatted upon the land. In 1808 instructions were 
issued by which a grant of 100 acres might be made to the 
head of a family, and of 50 acres to each member, not exceed- 
ing 500 acres in the whole, subject to the payment of a quit- 
rent of 2s. per 100 acres. This system continued in force till 
1827, and the settlement of the country is stated to have 
proceeded rapidly under its operation. Many disputes and 
much inconvenience were, however, produced by the grants 
occasionally made of land upon which squatters had estab- 
lished themselves during the previous prohibition of all grants ; 
and the appointment of local boards, adopted as a remedy for 
this evil, appears to have had very little influence. The 
practice of squatting, too, still continued, as might be expected 
when most of the causes to which it was attributable remained 
in full force, and when means were adopted to secure to the 



squatter the benefit of his improvements. All of these grants Nova 
were made subject to a quit-rent of 25. per 100 acres, but the Scotia, 
payment of this never appears to have been enforced, and the 
quit-rents were, in 1835, commuted for a yearly sum of 2,000/., 
payable by the Assembly towards the salary of the Governor. 

In 1827 the system of sale was introduced in this colony, 
in spite of a report made by the Governor to Lord Bathurst, 
pointing out what he conceived to be the injurious results 
of the plan. All persons, however, who were considered to 
have claims for grants of land, on the ground of actual settle- 
ment and improvements, were allowed to receive them upon 
the former terms, if they appUed before the 1st of January 
1828. 2,940 persons in the whole availed themselves of this 
privilege ; 1,820 in Nova Scotia, and 1,120 in Cape Breton. 

The progress of settlement in this Province has been neces- 
sarily slow. The early grants, whether those made prior to 
1773, or those to the American loyaHsts, still remain for the 
most part uncultivated. Whatever progress the population and 
agriculture of the colony has made of late years, appears, from 
the evidence, to be attributable almost entirely to the squatters, 
who have acquired, from the cultivation of the land itself, 
the means of paying the amount of fees, or the purchase 
money necessary to secure a title. It is stated in the evidence 
of Sir R. George, that a very considerable portion of the 
available ungranted land of the Province is occupied by 
squatters, and that one half of the population of Cape Breton 
may be assumed to consist of persons of this class. 

The practices which have prevailed in the land-granting 
department appear to have been not more consistent with 
the instructions of 1827, and the subsequent instructions of 
Lord Goderich in 1831, than those which have been described 
with regard to the other provinces. The practice of free 
grants has been continued ; out of the 5,750,000 acres dis- 
posed of by the Crown in the Province, only about 120,000 
acres have been disposed of under the system of sale ; and 
Mr. Morris, the Commissioner of Crown lands, states, that the 
largest portion of this has been acquired not by actual or 
intending settlers, but by speculators, who have been tempted 
by the low upset price, and have purchased on account of the 
timber, or with a view to profit from a future sale. 

In this colony there are the same defects and irregularities 
in the surveys which I have described in reference to Lower 
and Upper Canada, and the same immediate and prospective 
inconveniences resulting from this circumstance. 



j^'ew The area of the Province of New Brunswick is about 

Bruns- 16,500,000 acres. Of tliis quantity there have been granted 
^^i^^- 3,000,000 acres, and sold 1,400,000 ; in all, 4,400,000. Of 
the quantity still remaining at the disposal of the Crown, it 
is estimated that about 11,000,000 acres are fit for settle- 

Until the year 1784 this Province formed a part of Nova 
Scotia, but it does not appear to what extent the lands 
included within its limits had been granted before the 
separation took place. After its establishment as a separate 
province, grants of land were made under the authority of 
instructions from the Home Government by the Governor in 
Council, subject to the payment of a quit-rent of 2s. per 
100 acres. This system continued in force up to the year 
1827, when the system of selhng was introduced by instruc- 
tions from the Lords of the Treasury. 

The exercise of the power thus vested in the Governor and 
Council appears to have been characterized by very little 
more prudence and reserve than in the other colonies, since, 
although it is estimated that one half of the granted land is 
in the possession of actual occupants, it appears that at the 
present time very little more than a twentieth part is under 

In carrying out the system of sale in New Brunswick, no 
attention appears to have been shown to the instructions from 
Lord Goderich in 1831, directing that the purchase-money 
should be paid by half-yearly instead of annual instalments, 
and should bear interest. The system introduced by the 
Treasury instructions of 1827 "would seem to have been con- 
tinued till the receipt of the last instructions of Lord Glenelg 
in 1837. The low price of land in this Province, 2s. per acre, 
and the easy terms upon which payment is required, have led 
to an extensive acquisition of land by persons who have done 
notliing to improve it ; and it appears from the evidence of 
Mr. Bailhe, that there are great difficulties and delays in the 
way of obtaining a title, occasioned by the recent Act of the 
Provincial Parliament for regulating the disposal of waste lands. 
In this Province, also, there are uncertainties and difficulties 
resulting from the imperfect and incomplete state of the 
surveys, similar to those which I have described in reference 
to the other colonies ; and owing to the inadequate establish- 
ment of the surveyor-general's office, there is nearly a twelve- 
month's business in arrear. 



^^Bhe system of land-gi'anting, is most brief. The whole of the Edward 
^Kand was granted in one day to absentee proprietors upon 
terms which have never been fulfilled. To this original pro- 
fusion may be attributed all the evils under which this island 
has laboured, and to which, in spite of unremitting exertions 
on the part of the provincial legislature to enforce upon the 
Home Government the necessity of applying some remedy, it 
is still exposed. In every other colony there has been such 
a degree of laches upon the part of the Government as in 
equity to preclude it from any enforcement of the original 
conditions upon which grants were made ; but in Prince 
Edward Island scarcely at any time have five years been 
suffered to elapse without some appeal to the colonial minister, 
praying that the Cro^vn would resume the grants it had made, 
as a measure not merely legally justifiable, but as the only 
measure that could free the Province from the evils that these 
excessive grants had inflicted. Upon one occasion the repre- 
sentations of the Assembly temporarily prevailed ; process of 
escheat was adopted, and two townships were resumed by the 
Crown ; but the influence of the absentee proprietors pre- 
vailed with the Home Government to stop the measures which 
had been commenced, and from that time to the present 
nothing has been done to enforce the settlement of the grants, 
the greater number of which yet remain chiefly in a wild 

The repeated efforts of the legislature of the island to 
compel the forfeiture of these grants, induced the Home 
Government, at the same time that it refused to accede to 
the measures proposed for the purpose, to recommend another 
measure as a substitute. Accordingly, Lord Goderich, when 
Secretary of State for the Colonies, suggested that a tax should 
be imposed upon all wild land, and this suggestion was re- 
peated by Lord Stanley, and at a later period by Lord Glenelg. 
The Assembly, regarding such a measure as inadequate, 
declined at first to entertain it, but at length, finding that 
there was no chance of obtaining the sanction of the Imperial 
Government to any bill for the escheat of the waste lands, they 
passed an Act imposing a tax of 4<s. per 100 acres. This 
Act was reserved for the allowance of the King in Council, 
and upon the representations of the absentee proprietors, such 
allowance was refused. 

1352.3 F 


From the preceding brief and general sketch of the history 
of the system of land-granting pursued in all the Provinces 
of British North America, it appears that similar general 
principles have guided the Imperial Government in framing 
the measures which it has successively introduced and relin- 
quished. But although hitherto the administration of this 
branch of the pubhc service has been conducted upon similar 
principles, the actual practice has been and continues to be 
different in each colony. In no two colonies, in fact, has the 
same system prevailed at the same time. In Upper Canada, 
to select a single epoch, after 1804, land was granted upon the 
payment of fees, to almost every apphcant, in lots of from 
100 to 1,200 acres, in addition to the free grants to privileged 
persons, and till 1818 the grants were free from all conditions. 
In Lower Canada, at the same time, land was being granted 
in tracts of from 10,000 to 40,000 acres, subject to conditions 
of settlement. In New Brunswick land was granted, subject 
to the payment of a quit-rent, while in Nova Scotia, till the 
year 1808, all grants of land were absolutely forbidden. And 
even when an uniform system of sale was professedly estab- 
lished, the practices in the different colonies have been as 
variable as they previously had been. In Upper Canada, 
payment of the first instalment was never required at the 
time of sale ; the nominal price averaged lOs. per acre ; and 
after 1833 interest was required upon unpaid instalments. 
In Lower Canada, payment of the first instalment was always 
required ; the price of land has been about 35. Qd. per acre, 
and interest has never been demanded. In New Brunswick 
the price has been about 2s. per acre, and the payment of 
interest has never been required. And in Nova Scotia, the 
same price, and the same practice of not requiring interest, 
has prevailed ; but nearly all the land occupied for the pur- 
pose of settlement has been disposed of by free grant, in spite 
of the instructions of the Home Government, or has been 
occupied by squatters. In both Upper and Lower Canada 
also, large free grants of land have been made even up to the 
present moment, in fulfilment of previous engagements on 
the part of the Government, while in New Brunswick no land 
has been disposed of, excepting by sale, since 1828. In New 
Brunswick, land required, or supposed to be required, for 
actual settlement, has been sold at 25. to 25. Qd. per acre, 
while timber land has been sold at as high a price as IO5. In 
Lower Canada, on the contrary, timber land has been sold at 
as low, and in many cases at a far lower price, than other 
land. The purchase in the district of Gaspe, particularly 



referred to hereafter, which was made entirely for the sake of 
the timber, was at an average price of about 35. per acre. In 
[Lower Canada and New Brunswick, all purchases appear to 
have been made bond fide, while in Upper Canada the vast 
majority of purchases appear to have been merely nominal, 
the bidders having no intention to become purchasers, and 
bidding only that they might transfer their rights to those 
whom they had overbid. In fact, there is scarcely a single 
particular, from the mode in which the land was selected for 
sale by the Governor, to the manner in which the title was 
obtained after the completion of the purchase, in which 
different and even opposite practices did not prevail, under 
what was intended and assumed to be an uniform system. 
It is obvious that all of these practices could not be right ; 
but, judging from the results, it is not unfair to conclude that 
they have all been wrong. Almost every witness examined 
upon the subject condemned the practice with which he was 
best acquainted. Not one person could be found in any 
colony, even among those who might be supposed to possess 
a motive for looking with a favourable eye upon the system 
which they were engaged in carrying out, to speak in its 
praise. Such an unanimity of disapprobation must be allowed 
to possess considerable weight. In all of the colonies whose 
history I have previously sketched, in connection with the 
subject of my inquiry, the various methods of disposing of 
the public lands have produced results of the most disastrous 
character upon their progress and prosperity. 

The evidence collected upon this subject, and appended to 
the present Report, discloses the existence of evils in every 
colony similar in kind and in degree, having a common cause, 
and involving similar consequences. The settlers, separated 
from each other by tracts of appropriated but unoccupied 
land, whether Crown or clergy reserves, or private property, 
have been placed in circumstances which rendered it impos- 
sible that they should create or preserve the instruments of 
civilization and wealth. Their numbers are too few, and their 
position too distant, to allow them to support schools, places 
of worship, markets, or post-offices. They can neither make 
nor maintain roads. The produce of their farms, owing to 
the necessarily imperfect methods of cultivation pursued 
under such circumstances, is small in quantity, and, owing to 
the difficulty and expense of conveying it to market, of little 
value. The money that has been expended in the acquisition 
and improvement of the land they occupy yields them no 
adequate return ; and though the means of subsistence are 

F 2 


within their reach, yet these are rude, and not unfrequently 
scanty, and have to be purchased by severe and oftentimes 
unremitting toil. The experience of the past warrants no 
expectation of any improvement. With very few and irregular 
exceptions, such a state of things has prevailed in every 
district of every colony, from its establishment to the present 
time ; any increase of population having led rather to an 
extension of the limits of settlement than to the occupation 
of the unsettled lands in the midst of the old occupants. To 
an individual placed in this position there is, consequently, 
only one means of escape ; the total and immediate abandon- 
ment of his farm, either selling it for what it will fetch at 
the moment, or allowing it to remain unoccupied till he can 
obtain what he considers a fair price This is no exaggerated 
description of the difficulties and privations of persons so 
circumstanced, or of the manner in which those, who have 
not dissipated all their means, escape from it. The evidence 
of Mr. Kerr, of Mr. Russell, of Mr. Radenhurst, of Mr. Sullivan, 
of Mr. Rankin, and of Mr. Hawke, confirm, in the most com- 
plete manner, the above representation, as regards Upper 
and Lower Canada ; and, with respect to Nova Scotia and 
New Brunswick, in addition to the evidence given before the 
Commission, the statements of Major Head, by whom these 
colonies were visited in his capacity of Assistant Commissioner, 
and who is himself a native of Nova Scotia, represent a degree 
of stagnation and decay, as existing in these colonies, which, 
on less credible testimony, it would be difficult to believe. 
The picture of deserted and ruinous dwellings, and of aban- 
doned farms, which he draws, is such as might be expected 
in a country recently the victim of a hostile invasion, or in 
which the ungrateful soil barely repaid the labour of the 
cultivator. The picture, however, is drawn with respect to 
countries that have not felt the footsteps of an enemy for 
more than half a century, possessing a soil of abounding, if 
not of unexampled, fertility, and rich in all the elements of 
commerical and agricultural wealth. 

In the Lower Provinces there has not been that immigra- 
tion of individuals possessed of capital which took place to 
so great an extent into Upper Canada, and which was stimu- 
lated by the offers of the Provincial Government, and by 
representations, sanctioned at least, if not made, by the 
Government at home. The colonies of Nova Scotia and New 
Brunswick, therefore, afford no such striking instances of 
ruin to the emigrant capitalist as are furnished by the evidence 
taken in respect of Upper Canada ; but they contain abundant 


industry and forbid progress. In Upper Canada the large 
emigration of capitalists created a temporary activity and 
a seeming prosperity, in which New Brunswick only partially 
shared. The money paid by such emigrants, as the price of 
the land they intended to cultivate, stimulated a speculation 
in lands for which it supplied the means ; and the large sums 
expended in the clearing and cultivation of their farms, 
although yielding no sufficient return to themselves, gave 
employment and subsistence to the labouring population, and 
enabled many of these latter to establish themselves advan- 
tageously. But all this was in its nature temporary. The 
emigration of capitalists well nigh ceased with the year 1834 ; 
and a progress, dependent upon this source, continued but 
a short time after the impulse was withdrawn. It was to no 
cause but the unprecedented emigration, from 1828 to 1834, 
that we can attribute the great increase in the price of land, 
which has been so often referred to as a proof of the prosperity 
of Upper Canada ; and the present nominal prices of wild 
land in that colony have been maintained entirely by an 
expectation of a similar degree and character of emigration 
for the future. Still there, where the apparent prosperity has 
been greatest, we have at the same time the strongest evidences 
of the evil and injury by which it has been accompanied. The 
Lower Provinces, to which no similar emigration has occurred, 
exhibit the ordinary and inevitable results of the policy which 
has been pursued in their settlement, unaffected by any dis- 
turbing causes. 

It is not improbable that attempts will be made to impugn 
the accuracy of these statements, and that comparisons will 
be drawn between the advance of these colonies in popula- 
tion, and that of the United States during the last few years, 
for the purpose of proving that the inferences drawn by 
different witnesses, and adopted in the present Report, are 
not warranted by the facts stated. But there are certain 
general facts which it is impossible to deny or evade. The 
enormous disproportion between the granted and cultivated 
land in every Province, and the great re-emigration to the 
United States, admit of no contradiction. Allowing that 
during the last few years there has been a very considerable 
augmentation in the number of the inhabitants, and in the 
agriculture and commerce of the colonies, and that, compared 
with their previous condition, their present circumstances 
exhibit hopeful signs of improvement and activity, this does 
not affect the truth of the representations I have made. It 


is still incontestably true, that after the lapse of a period 
varying from 60 to 10 years, less than a 20th part of the land 
granted by the Crown has been reclaimed from the wilder- 
ness, and that a very large proportion, if not the majority, 
of the emigrants from the United Kingdom, who have arrived 
in these colonies, have left them for another land, with no 
greater natural advantages of soil or position, and where 
they are surrounded by a people whose habits and institutions 
are unfamiliar to them. I do not dwell here upon the high 
official rank and unimpeachable personal character of many 
of the gentlemen by whom the obnoxious disclosures have 
been made, because the two circumstances to which I have 
just referred are notorious and indisputable. They require no 
weight of evidence to establish their truth, and they sufficiently 
prove the accuracy of the general conclusions deduced from 
the whole evidence. 

Any comparison, too, between the increase of population 
in these colonies, and in the United States, is essentially 
fallacious. In Upper Canada, for instance, the immigration 
of 10 years, added to the natural increase by births, doubled 
the number of inhabitants ; but the absolute increase was 
only 200,000, and the immigrants who remained in the colony, 
did not probably amount to more than 120,000. To have 
produced a similar effect upon the population of the United 
States would have required an immigration of nearly four 
millions. The proper standard of comparison would be one 
of the new states in the western territory, such as Illinois, 
where, in less than 15 years, the population has risen to 
a greater amount than that of Upper Canada at the present 
time, and in which the general advance, in every matter con- 
nected with civilization and material progress, is, beyond all 
comparison, greater than anjrthing which the most favoured 
spots in these colonies could exhibit. It came to my know- 
ledge, that in this state there was one town of recent founda- 
tion, in which a considerable number of EngHsh settlers were 
established, all of whom had originally attempted to settle 
themselves in Upper Canada, and had been driven from that 
Province by the impediments to success which they foimd 
everywhere existing ; and I am credibly informed that a large 
portion of the population of this state was composed of persons 
of the same class. In the face of such facts I cannot acquiesce 
in any eulogy of the past system, because it has not entirely 
repelled or driven out all emigrants from the United Kingdom, 
nor prevented those who have stayed from contributing, in 
some small measure, to the advance of the Provinces. 


I The evils above described are of so prominent a character, 
and affect so materially the progress and wealth of every 
inhabitant of these Provinces, that it was impossible they 

P should have been suffered to continue without some effort 
for their cure. Accordingly, it appears that in all of the 
colonies different measures, having for their object the removal 
tof existing, or the prevention of future, inconveniences of this 
character, have been from time to time adopted. Whatever 
may have been the nature of these measures, or the manner 
in which they were intended to operate, the present con- 
dition of every colony testifies most unequivocally to their 
entire and absolute failure. No detailed evidence is required 
upon this point. Every where the circumstances against which 
they were directed exist in full vigour, and no traces are to be 
found of the existence or operation of a remedy. And upon 
inquiry, it appears that with scarcely any exception the 
various proceedings that have been at different times adopted 
as a remedy, have been either inoperative or injurious ; either 
they have done nothing, or they have done mischief. A brief 
examination of these measures will show the causes to which 
their failure is attributable. 

The previous history of the old American colonies had 
made the English statesmen of 1763, in some degree, familiar 
with the nature and the causes of those evils to which new 
countries are exposed, from the manner in which the public 
lands are disposed of. Accordingly, in the instructions ad- 
dressed to the Governor of the Province of Quebec imme- 
diately after the Peace of Paris, which secured to England the 
undisturbed possession of the Provinces she had conquered, 
we find a recognition of the existence of these evils employed 
as introductory to a measure of prevention. * Whereas,' say 
the instructions, ' great inconvenience has heretofore arisen in 
many parts of the colonies in America, from the granting 
excessive quantities of land to particular persons who have 
never cultivated the same, and who have thereby prevented 
others, more industrious, from improving such lands ; ' and 
this recital is followed by a declaration limiting all grants to 
an extent proportioned to the number of the family of the 
applicant, and in no case beyond such an amount as, with 
a large family, might be easily cultivated ; though in the 
subsequent clause a power is vested in the Governor of increas- 
ing the grant by 1,000 acres, in cases where he might deem 
such increase expedient. In the instructions of 1791, the 
quantity to be granted was yet further limited ; 200 acres 
being established as the general extent of a grant. This was 


the first and most natural expedient. The evils referred to in 
the extract from the instructions which I have just quoted, 
had been occasioned by excessive grants ; what, therefore, 
could seem a more appropriate remedy than the prohibition 
of large grants for the future ? The effect of the regulation, 
however, was not answerable to the intention of its framers. 
It failed partly from the abuses introduced or permitted by 
those to whom its execution was entrusted, but still more by 
its own intrinsic insufficiency. In Lower Canada these in- 
structions were evaded by the system of leaders and associates 
previously referred to, and described in the evidence of 
Mr. Davidson. And the Home Government, by whom these 
instructions were framed, and by whom they were repeated 
from time to time, upon the appointment of each successive 
Governor, even up to the introduction of the system of sale 
in 1826, itself not merely afforded an implied sanction to this 
evasion, by authorizing a grant of 12,000 acres to six of the 
executive councillors who had formed the land board, imder 
the authority of which these excessive grants had been made, 
but violated its own instructions by these grants, and by the 
grants to Sir R. S. Milnes and others, referred to in the same 
part of the evidence. In these cases, and in the cases enume- 
rated with regard to Upper Canada by Mr. Radenhurst, the 
rule was evaded. But in both Provinces, and in the latter 
Province especially, it was found to be insufficient, even when 
fairly carried out. By far the largest portion of the present 
waste, but appropriated lands, in the Province of Upper 
Canada, were granted originally in 200 and 100 acre lots to 
U. E. loyalists and militia claimants (Return No. 16) ; to 
the former as a reward for the loyalty which induced them to 
abandon the United States, in order to maintain unimpaired 
their connexion with England, and to the latter in considera- 
tion of the services rendered during the last war with the 
United States. In Lower Canada also, including the grants 
to militia men, nearly 1,000,000 acres were granted in the 
spirit of these instructions, in 200 and 100 acre lots. In these 
cases, therefore, it is not to the extent of the individual grants 
that we can attribute the existence of evils of the very character 
pointed out in the extract quoted above ; and yet such evils 
were produced by these grants as completely as by the most 
flagrant evasion or violation of the instructions of the Govern- 
ment. Enormous tracts of land, to the extent, in one case, of 
100,000 acres, were acquired by different individuals who 
would neither cultivate the tracts thus acquired, nor dispose 
of them upon terms to attract settlers. The first plan, there- 


fore, for preventing these evils by limiting the amount of the 
land to be granted to individual applicants, was proved to 
be altogether inadequate. 

But as a further means of preventing the evils referred to 
in the instructions of 1763, conditions of settlement and 
cultivation were attached to the greater number of the large 
grants of land made in Lower Canada, and to nearly all of 
those in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward 
Island. The grantee was bound to place settlers and to make 
improvements upon his grant within a certain fixed period, 
and in certain definite proportions. In default of the perform- 
ance of these conditions the grant was to be void. These 
conditions were, however, as unavailing as the previous 
limitation had been. In only a very inconsiderable number 
of cases were they performed to any extent, and in none 
probably were they performed according to the terms of the 
grant. But though the grants thus became liable to forfeiture, 
this liability was seldom, in some colonies never, enforced. 
The land was left unsettled and waste, but it still remained 
the property of the grantees, only to be resumed by legal 

The proved inadequacy of these regulations and conditions 
led to the adoption in 1818, both in Lower and Upper Canada, 
of a new system. Under this the improvement of the land 
and the establishment of a settler upon it, instead of being 
a subsequent, was made a preliminary condition of all grants, 
and no title to the land was to be obtained until after its 
fulfilment. This plan, if it had been rigidly enforced, would 
have greatly checked, if it had not entirely prevented, the 
acquisition of any land except by those who had actually 
settled upon it. But it was heedlessly relaxed when com- 
paratively few grants had been made. Although, therefore, 
a considerable degree of settlement took place under this 
system, its chief effect was to occasion a certain outlay upon 
the land in the colourable performance of the conditions, 
without producing any improvement in the land, or diminish- 
ing in any degree the evils occasioned by the unsettled grants. 

This result is attributable chiefly to two causes ; the one, 
the nature of a very large portion of the grants to which the 
conditions were made applicable ; and the other, the state 
of the districts within which, for the most part, these grants 
were situated. The greater proportion of the grants were 
made in reward of services to U. E. loyalists and militia. 
Individuals of these classes were not, in the majority of cases, 
disposed to settle upon the land promised them, and they not 


unreasonably complained of the annexation of any conditions 
to what they contended was designed to be a free and unin- 
cumbered gift. It was quite fair upon every principle, that 
when an individual, entering the country in order that he 
might there find the means of bettering his fortune, applied 
for a grant of land upon which he could settle, the Crown 
should require some proof that the application was made bond 
fide, and that the applicant really designed to cultivate his 
grant. But it was alleged that this rule did not apply to the 
case of persons to whom the land had been promised as a 
reward for something that had been already performed. It 
was no favour to such persons to allow them to receive a grant 
upon the same terms upon which it might be obtained by 
almost every applicant, and a compUance with which would 
have destroyed its value, since the cost of performing settle- 
ment duties was greater than the selling price of the land. 
Great numbers of these persons, therefore, obtained location 
tickets, never intending to perform any conditions, and trust- 
ing that no steps would be taken by Government to dispossess 
them. And those who did perform the conditions, did so in the 
slightest and least effectual manner, merely in order to enable 
them to obtain a secure and marketable title. There were 
some, however, both of the U. E. loyahsts and mihtia, who 
would have been wilHng to occupy the land granted to them, 
and these, as well as the intending settlers of other classes 
who had obtained location tickets, apphed themselves in 
earnest to clear and cultivate the land of which they were put 
in possession. But there were insurmountable obstacles in 
their way. The assigned lot was often at a distance from all 
settlements, and with no roads leading to it. Frequently it 
was well nigh impossible for the settler even to discover the 
actual position of a lot ; and when he had encountered and 
overcome these difficulties, a more lengthened trial often con- 
vinced him that ultimate success was not to be hoped for, 
and compelled the abandonment of his improvements. The 
land granted under these conditions, added therefore to the 
land retained in a state of wilderness, uncultivated by the 
proprietor, and withheld from those who might have brought 
it under cultivation. 

The uniform failure of these successive methods, added to 
complaints of favouritism, led, about the year 1826, to the 
introduction of the system of sale. In Upper Canada it appears 
that this system has, to a considerable extent, effected one of 
the intentions of its framers, by preventing the acquisition of 
land for any other purpose than that of actual settlement. 


Still the results of the system have been highly injurious in 
that Province, as I shall have occasion to show in connexion 
with another part of the subject. In Lower Canada, except 
in the case of purchases by squatters, it appears that the 
greater part of the land was purchased by speculators, and 
a similar result appears to have been produced in New Bruns- 
wick and Nova Scotia. In these latter colonies, therefore, 
the system of sale has added to whatever evils are produced 
by the existence of the large tracts of appropriated but 
unoccupied land. 

None of the methods to which I have thus referred had, or 
were intended to have, any retrospective effect. They were 
prospective merely. Existing inconveniences were left un- 
touched. All that was attempted was to prevent the occur- 
rence of similar inconveniences in respect of any future grants. 
The plans successively introduced and abandoned were 
designed as measures of prevention, not of remedy, and, as 
has been sho^\^l, they failed almost entirely, even in this 
hmited, and it might perhaps be added, unimportant, object. 
There have, however, been efforts on the part of the Govern- 
ment to remove existing, as well as to provide against antici- 
pated evils. The measures adopted for this purpose have 
been two : the adoption of proceedings to procure the escheat 
of grants in respect of which the conditions had not been 
fulfilled ; and the imposition of a tax upon wild lands. The 
former has been attempted in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, 
Prince Edward Island, and Lower Canada ; the latter in 
Upper Canada and Prince Edward Island. In the first-named 
Province, in which, as has been already stated, nearly the 
whole of the available land comprised within its limits was 
granted, as early as 1763, to individuals or companies residing 
for the most part in England, and where the result might be 
said to be the virtual annihilation of the colony, the intoler- 
able evils thus occasioned led to early attempts to recover by 
escheat the lands so lavishly and imprpvidently afienated. 
The owners of these grants, however, many of whom had 
expended considerable sums in ill-directed and abortive efforts 
to improve them, resisted the attempt ; and from their position 
in England, and the influence they were thus enabled to exert, 
resisted it with success. It is difficult to say how long this 
Province, the most rich in mineral wealth, and most accessible 
from Great Britain of all the British colonial possessions on 
the continent of North America, might have remained in the 
entire possession of these persons, had it not been for the 
necessity imposed upon the English Government of providing 


an asylum for the refugee loyalists from the United States. 
The Province of Nova Scotia, with its numerous and capacious 
harbours, its fisheries, and its mines, appeared as eminently 
fitted to become the home of those merchants and capitalists 
of the United States who were desirous of remaining citizens 
of the British empire, as did Upper Canada, with its fertile 
soil, for the agricultural class of refugees. In order to afford 
the means of settlement to persons of the former class, process 
of escheat was commenced against the proprietors of the 
unimproved land in Nova Scotia, and large quantities were 
escheated, upon which these persons were estabhshed. Both 
the refugees and the Government appear to have imagined 
that the settlements thus formed would maintain a successful 
rivalry in commercial enterprise with the cities on the sea- 
board of the United States. These hopes were, however, 
utterly disappointed. While the American cities advanced 
with unexampled rapidity, and extended their commerce in 
every direction, the towns founded by these refugees began 
to decay almost from the moment of their foundation, and 
speedily sank into a state of hopeless stagnation. The cause 
of the mortifying contrast is obvious. The former were sup- 
ported by the trade of a community rapidly advancing in 
numbers and wealth, whose products they exported to foreign 
countries, and whose wants they supphed by importation. 
The latter were isolated establishments, fixed in a country 
which not merely had but a scanty and impoverished popula- 
tion at the time, but which was closed against settlement by 
the early improvidence of the Government. The attempt to 
establish great commercial towns in a Province which, from 
the want of a population to bring its great natural sources to 
account, had no exports, and, consequently, no imports, 
necessarity failed ; and all the wealth brought into the country 
by these refugees was in a very short period entirely wasted. 
The agricultural settlers experienced a similar fate. The 
want of roads, and the scattered position of the popula- 
tion, fettered their industry ; while the institutions of their 
new country, from which every vestige of the municipal 
system of the old colonies was jealously excluded, prevented 
them from applying those remedies by which the citizens of 
the United States have freed themselves from similar incon- 
veniences. The progress of the colony, therefore, was slow 
and languid ; and even at the present time, after the lapse of 
more than half a century, only l-30th of the granted land is 
under cultivation. Even in this case, therefore, the most 
favourable that could be selected, the practice of escheat 



may be considered to have totally failed as a remedy for the 
evils produced by excessive grants. In the evidence of 
Mr. Morris and Sir R. George, with regard to Nova Scotia, of 
Mr. Baillie with regard to New Brunswick, of Mr. Lelacheur 
with regard to Prince Edward Island, and of Mr. Davidson 
with regard to Lower Canada, in all of which colonies escheats 
have been enforced or attempted, will be found abundant 
proof of its general inutility. As a measure of punishment 
merely it has had a small and partial effect ; but as a remedy 
it has been altogether inoperative. 

There remains for consideration only the measure of a tax 
upon wild land. This differs in one respect from all the other 
devices enumerated above, inasmuch as it has proceeded not 
from the Home, but from the Provincial Government. There 
have, however, been only two colonies in which it has been 
attempted, Upper Canada and Prince Edward Island. In 
both of these the object with which it was proposed, was not 
so much to remedy the general evils produced by the existence 
of the wild land as to compel the proprietors to contribute, 
at least in some small degree, towards the general revenue of 
the colony. The tax, therefore, was not at all in the nature 
of a fine. Wild land was considered as a property, and, as 
such, as the legitimate object of a tax, but it was rated at 
a less amount than land under cultivation. The law imposing 
such a tax proposed in both colonies, has, in both, received 
the sanction of the Legislature. Its operation can, however, 
only be traced in one, since, in Prince Edward Island, the 
sanction of the Imperial Government was withheld from the 
Act by which it was imposed. In Upper Canada, where it 
has existed for nearly 20 years, its operation has been in 
a very slight degree beneficial ; and even the benefits which 
it has produced have been, to a great extent, counterbalanced 
by consequences resulting from the manner in which the law 
has been enforced. 

The tax upon wild lands in Upper Canada was first imposed 
in 1820, or perhaps it should rather be said, that in that year 
measures were first taken to enforce its payment. A tax of 
this sort had previously existed ; but as it was merely a per- 
sonal charge upon the owner of the land, it could only be 
recovered in those cases in which the owner resided within 
the district where his lands were situated. In 1820 it was 
made a charge upon the land, and the sheriff was authorized 
to sell the land in the event of nonpayment of the tax for eight 
years. By the Act imposing the tax, the assessment upon any 
species of property cannot exceed Id. in the pound. The 


power of assessment is vested in the magistrates of the dis- 
trict, who also have the sole control of the funds produced 
from this source. Wild land is valued at 45. per acre, and 
land under cultivation at 205. ; so that the tax upon the 
latter is five times greater than that upon the former ; and 
the utmost amount to which the owner of wild land can be 
subject under this Act, if the tax is regularly paid, is Is. Sd. 
per annum for every 100 acres. There are, however, pro- 
visions in the Act for augmenting the amount of the tax if it 
is unpaid for more than a certain period ; and there are also 
some small additional charges imposed by other Acts, to 
which wild lands are subject on account of the allowances to 
members of the Assembly, and the expenses of marking the 
boundaries of a township. The total amount, however, of all 
these taxes, supposing them to be unpaid for the whole period 
of eight years, is ver;^ little more than 45. per 100 acres per 
annum. Of the amount raised from this source under the 
Act of 1820, only one-third, according to the statement of 
Mr. Robinson, is apphcable to the making of roads ; and this, 
being expended under the superintendence of an irresponsible 
magistracy, is productive of very little advantage. It appears, 
too, from the evidence of Mr. Radenhurst, that the tax is 
levied only upon such wild land as has been actually granted 
by the Crown by patent, and that there are upwards of 
700,000 acres of wild land, private property, the patents for 
which have not been applied for, and the owners of which, 
consequently, escape the tax. In addition to this amount, 
there are upwards of 1,000,000 acres sold to the Canada Com- 
pany similarly circumstanced, and the whole of the clergy 
and school and college reserves, amounting to 2,500,000 acres ; 
so that upwards of 4,000,000 acres, or more than a fourth of 
the appropriated but unoccupied land of the province, escapes 
all contribution to the tax. It can excite no surprise, there- 
fore, that the produce of this impost should have caused very 
little perceptible improvement in the country. 

The tax, too, has been of very trifling advantage in stimu- 
lating the owners of wild lands to any efforts for the improve- 
ment of their property ; the amount is too insignificant to 
give an adequate motive for such an expenditure as might 
attract settlers, or even to induce a sale at a reasonable price. 
In fact, supposing the tax to be paid regularly, it would not 
in five years amount, for 100 acres, to the value of a single 
acre, at the present average price of public land. In this 
respect, therefore, it has been totally inoperative. It has, 
however, had one beneficial effect, though this has resulted 



chiefly from the abuse of the power of sale, and has been small 
in comparison with what might have been obtained by a 
different system. In almost every case in which the tax was 
unpaid, the land was owned by absentee proprietors, many of 
whom, probably, were hardly aware that they had any such 
property. Land thus held was absolutely closed against 
settlement, since there was no possibility of obtaining a title 
to it. As, however, the practice was to put up for sale the 
whole of the land in respect of which the tax was due, at just 
such a price as would defray the tax and the expenses of the 
sale, all or nearly all of these tracts of land, passed into the 
hands of residents in the colony, or at least of persons who 
were known and might be easily found. It is stated by 
Mr. Kerr, that there was great collusion among the buyers at 
these sales ; and there is no doubt that they were in effect 
a measure of confiscation ; but it must be allowed that it was 
more for the advantage of the colony that these lands should 
be held by persons who would sell them, even at high prices, 
than that they should be altogether unattainable. Here, 
however, the advantage of the tax ceased. The quantity of 
land actually held in a state of wilderness has not been 
diminished ; and the persons who have purchased at these 
sales are generally disposed to think that, as they have paid 
so small a sum for t^he land, they can afford to wait until they 
obtain their price for it. The estates of some wealthy land- 
owners have been very greatly increased, but the improve- 
ment of the country has been in none, or but in a very limited 
degree, promoted by the operation of this tax. 

This concludes the Hst of the different measures adopted to 
prevent, or to cure those evils which, in the language of the 
instructions of 1763, arose from ' the granting of excessive 
quantities of land to particular persons, who have never 
cultivated the same, and who have thereby prevented others 
more industrious from improving such lands.' All these 
measures in their turn have failed. Excessive quantities of 
land have been and are owned by persons who never intended 
to cultivate them, and who, in spite as it would seem of the 
plainest dictates even of their own. interest, have closed them 
against those by whom they might have been improved. The 
consequences of this state of things are detailed in the evidence 
appended to this report. To use the words of Mr. Kerr, 
inconvenience is a very faint term to employ in describing its 
results. Capital and labour have been wasted ; settlement 
has been prevented, or after a brief trial the attempt has been 
abandoned ; immigration has been checked, and of the 


immigrants who have reached the colonies, more than half 
have sought a refuge in the United States ; there are not, and 
there cannot be, any efficient means for the administration 
of justice, for education, for religious instruction ; few public 
works are undertaken, and those which have been commenced 
are carried on languidly and wastefuUy ; and there is every- 
where a lamentable deficiency of all those circumstances 
which indicate or advance civiHzation. It would be perhaps 
beyond the truth to attribute all of these evils to the manner 
in which the land has been disposed of. Other causes have no 
doubt contributed to produce tliis result. But incontestably 
the main and primary cause has been the profusion of Govern- 
ment in the disposal of the public lands. 

That the colonies should be left in such a position as that 
which all the evidence concurs in describing, cannot assuredly 
be contemplated for a moment. Still less can the EngHsh 
Government persevere in encouraging emigration to these 
Provinces, unless perhaps in the case of those who, having no 
wealth but their labour, can without loss leave the colonies 
for the United States, as soon as they discover that in the 
latter the remuneration for labour, and the prospects of 
industry, are greater than in the former. If the Imperial 
Legislature \vill not devise a remedy for the evils which the 
Imperial Government has occasioned or sanctioned, at least it 
is the imperative duty of the Government of the present day 
to refrain from adding to the numbers of those who, having 
been tempted by the offer of land, or induced by false or 
partial representations of the circumstances of the colonies, 
have been led to emigrate to their ruin. In fact, for the pur- 
poses of colonization, all these colonies may be said to be 
perfectly valueless at the present time. With the single 
exception of New Brunswick, the quantity of ungranted land 
remaining at the disposal of the Government, bears but 
a small proportion to the waste land the property of indi- 
viduals, and is far less available for the purpose of settlement. 
And even in New Brunswick, the 11,000,000 acres remaining 
at the disposal of the Crown cannot be profitably occupied 
while the four-and-a-half millions which have become private 
property remain uncultivated. Until the granted wastes shall 
be filled up with population, and intersected by available 
means of communication. Government is necessarily restrained 
from the exercise of one of its most important functions, by 
the risk of injuring those whom it designs to benefit. It will 
be expedient, doubtless, that some measures should be takea 



to regulate the future disposal of the waste public lands ; but 
this can be of no immediate advantage. The wisest measures 
for the future must be nugatory until the evils of the past 
have been remedied ; when this is done, it will be time enough 
to determine the future proceedings to be adopted in refer- 
ence to tliis property. 

It may be urged that this is a matter chiefly concerning 
the colonies ; one, too, upon which they have borne impatiently 
the former interference of Government, and with regard to 
which, therefore, they would be disposed to resent any legisla- 
tion by the British Parhament. I have already referred to 
the general grounds upon which this objection rests ; but 
I may here call attention to the different feeUng with which 
the colonists might be expected to regard a measure of the 
Imperial Legislature, of which the motive and object were 
seen to be the removal of the very circumstances that have 
occasioned their complaints, from that excited by those pro- 
ceedings of the Imperial Executive to which these circum- 
stances have been owing. But the mere anticipation of the 
possibiUty of such an objection, can form no ground for refusing 
to entertain the subject ; and the concurrent statements of 
individuals of almost every class in the colonies, landholders 
as well as others, show that the necessity of some remedial 
measure is felt, and its advantages fully appreciated. There 
may be some interests in the colonies as well as in England 
opposed to such a measure, but this rather forms a reason 
for the interference of Great Britain, by whose poUcy these 
conflicting interests have been created. The condition of the 
colonies, too, demands that some effort should be made ; and 
it is neither prudent nor just that the country that has occa- 
sioned should shrink from repairing the mischief. 

It appears that any plan that can be proposed must partake Tax upon 
of the nature of one or the other of the two measures by which J^^^ 
this has been aheady attempted. The one is the process of 
escheat ; the other the imposition of a tax. The effect of the 
former would be to re-invest in the Crown large tracts, in 
respect of which the conditions of the grant have not been 
performed ; of the latter, to raise from the land a revenue for 
the improvement of the country, by means which would at 
the same time induce the owners of the wild land to make 
some effort to settle and improve their property, and which 
would facihtate the success of their endeavours. 

It must be confessed that the failure of all the attempts 
that have been made to carry the former plan into effect, 
forms no sufficient argument against its employment for the 

1352.3 G 



Tax upon future. The measures adopted for the purpose have been 
Wild so incomplete and desultory, so partial in their scope, and 
inadequate in their machinery, and so completely without 
any guarantees for the wiser disposal of the land which might 
be thus recovered for the pubhc, that their ill-success proves 
nothing against the principle of the proceeding. But there 
are in the circumstances of the colonies, and in the nature of 
the conditions imposed upon the grants, reasons which appear 
to render the adoption of any such plan inexpedient for the 
future. In many cases the fulfilment of the conditions upon 
which grants were made, has been rendered impossible by the 
Government. In the two Canadas especially, the Crown and 
clergy reserves were alone sufficient to render the settlement 
of the townships, according to the terms of the grant, abso- 
lutely impossible ; and when the injury inflicted by the 
manner in which these reserves were laid out, was pointed 
out by the Provincial Government, their remonstrance w^as 
unheeded ; and a plan, which their experience of its results 
led them to condemn, was maintained, in spite of their pro- 
test, by the English Minister to whom their complaints were 
addressed. To compel the forfeiture of grants on account of 
the non-performance of impracticable conditions, would be 
ungracious if not unjust, even if they remained in the hands 
of the original grantees ; and when, as is the case in the 
majority of instances, these grants have passed by sale into 
the hands of other parties who were emboldened to purchase 
by the tacit acquiescence of the Government for a period of 
from 30 to 40 years in the non-performance of the conditions, 
the hardship of such a step would be greatly enhanced. 
Although it is true that the present holders can have acquired 
no rights which were not possessed by those through whom 
they derived their titles, yet they may fairly be considered as 
having an equitable claim, which the Government is bound to 
respect. The same arguments will apply more or less to all 
the other colonies, with the exception, perhaps, of Prince 
Edward Island, where the Provincial Government has never 
desisted from endeavours, which have been unhappily defeated 
by the exercise of the powers vested in the Home Government, 
to enforce the performance of the conditions, or, in default, 
to resume the land. In many cases, also, the conditions have 
been so far performed as to render it impossible to escheat 
the grant, although none of the inconveniences which it has 
produced have been removed. In almost every instance the 
cultivation of one -fourteenth of the land was the extent of 
improvement required by the grant ; and thus, out of a block 



of 14,000 acres, 13,000 may be absolutely waste, and the Tax upon 
owner yet have an absolute and indefeasible title. From the ^^^ 
evidence of Sir R. George it appears that this is the case to 
a considerable extent in Nova Scotia, and it appears also to 
be the case in many instances in Lower Canada. In Upper 
Canada no conditions of any sort were imposed upon the early 
grants, which comprise by far the larger portion of the granted 
land ; and in those cases in which conditions were imposed, 
the cultivation of l-25th part of the grant was all that was 
required ; and this, as it was a preliminary condition, has in 
most instances been performed. It appears therefore that 
the process of escheat would, under the circumstances, be 
one of doubtful justice, and of very imperfect benefit. In 
many of the cases in which it could be employed, it would 
punish innocent individuals ; and it could not be employed 
to an extent sufficient to produce any pubHc advantage. 

A tax upon wild lands, therefore, appears to be the only 
measure left open to the Government for the accomplishment 
of this most important object. Every witness who was 
examined upon this subject, concurred in the opinion that 
the imposition of such a tax was absolutely necessary. The 
late Chief Justice of Quebec was the only individual who 
objected to a general and uniform tax, preferring, with 
a natural partiality to the institutions of his native country, 
local assessments for local purposes. As this proposal will 
come under notice in the consideration of the manner in which 
such a tax should be levied, I shall not dwell upon it here. 
I refer to it merely in order to call attention to the fact, that 
though Mr. Sewell differed from the other witnesses, as to the 
authorities by Avhom the tax should be imposed and expended, 
he agreed in the necessity for its imposition. Every other 
witness upon this point, including many persons in each colony 
who had seen most of the working of the present system, 
many of high official station, and many of the largest land- 
holders, concurred in representing it, not merely as desirable 
but necessary. I would refer especially to the evidence of 
Mr. Stayner, deputy Postmaster-general, himself probably 
the largest landholder in the two Canadas, and whose testi- 
mony is the more valuable, because it was not delivered viva 
voce, in answer to questions then presented to him for the 
first time, but in writing, after repeated conversations, in 
which all the principles of the plan embodied in his evidence 
had been suggested to him, and ho had deliberately considered 
their practicabihty and value. 

The effect of a tax upon wild lands, the whole proceeds of 



Tax upon which should be applied in improving the communications 
^^^ and facilitating the settlement of the country, would be to 
remove some of the worst evils at present produced by the 
existence of the immense tracts of wilderness between, and in 
the midst of, the settled districts, and to diminish the quantity 
of the land retained in a wilderness state. The former, by 
opening roads in all needful directions for the transport of 
produce, and the latter by inducing and enabling the present 
proprietors of the wild land to settle or dispose of their pro- 
perty. The opening of roads is the one thing, without which 
it is impossible that a new country can thrive ; and the 
obstacles placed in the way of making and maintaining roads 
by the waste granted land, constitute the most serious injury 
that the large tracts of such land inflict upon the province. 
The separation of settlers is undoubtedly under all circum- 
stances a great source of injury. The existence of available 
roads, however, very greatly mitigates, though it cannot 
altogether remove this evil. In many parts of the country, 
settlers within two miles of each other are really more separated 
than they would be if living ten miles apart upon one of the 
leading roads. In the evidence of Mr. Hyndman, an instance 
is given in which, owing to the want of a bridge, settlers 
within two or three miles of the principal town in the district, 
have been unable to communicate with it for three days at 
a time. Where there are no roads, it is vain for the settler 
to raise any produce beyond what is required for his own 
consumption ; for, when raised, the expense of carrying it to 
market, would be far greater than the amount for which it 
could be sold. The evidence taken in every province abounds 
in testimonies, direct and indirect, to the truth of these repre- 
sentations, which will be abundantly confirmed by the personal 
knowledge of every one who has had any acquaintance with 
our colonies, or the new States of the Union. It is the assumed 
application of a wild land-tax to the making of roads, which 
reconciles the landed proprietors to its imposition ; and it 
is the same cause which induces the settlers to look to it as 
a means of relief. The former acquiesce in it as a means of 
raising, though at first at their own expense, the value of 
their, at present, almost useless possessions ; the latter desire 
it, in order that the productive industry of the country may 
no longer be fettered by the mass of unproductive property. 
But the mere construction of roads is insufficient to remove 
the evils I have described. So long as an individual can 
retain his land in a wilderness state without cost, there is 
always a considerable risk, lest, in his endeavour to secure 


a large ultimate gain, he should overlook or disregard the Tax upon 
inconveniences produced by his refusal to dispose of it upon ^^^^ 
reasonable terms. There can be no doubt that this is the 
case at present. Many of the holders of very large tracts are 
glad to sell whenever they can find a purchaser ; but there 
are many who will not sell except at prices altogether dis- 
proportioned to the present value of their land, and who, 
whenever apphed to upon the subject, content themselves 
with declaring that they can afford to wait ; that a few years 
is of no importance to them ; and that they feel assured, 
before many years have elapsed, the progress of settlement 
will enable them to obtain the price they now ask. Without 
wishing to interfere with the right of control, which every 
individual ought to possess over his own property, it can 
hardly be doubted that the present is a case in whdch some 
measure should be adopted, in order to prevent such an 
exercise of this right as is inconsistent with the pubhc interest ; 
and the imposition of a tax appears to be the best and most 
effectual means of accomplishing the object. There may be 
some to whom such a tax would be unpalatable at first ; and 
there may even be some upon whom it might press unfairly ; 
but no measure could be proposed, having a tendency to 
remove the evils complained of, at once so popular and so 
equal in its operation. 

There is one prehminary question to which it is necessary 
that I should advert. By whom, and in what manner, ought 
this tax to be raised ? Is it to be left to the inhabitants of 
particular districts to regulate its amount and appHcation, or 
to be imposed by a central authority ? The practice of the 
United States appears to be in favour of the former plan, 
which is advocated by the late Chief Justice of Quebec ; but 
I am nevertheless of opinion, that the latter will be found by 
far the more satisfactory and useful proceeding. The evils, 
which a wild land-tax is intended to remedy, are neither local 
nor partial. They are not confined to one colony, nor to 
separate districts of each. With very few and unimportant 
exceptions, every part of every colony is affected by them. 
There is no reason, therefore, founded upon their merely local 
character, for deriving the means of remedy from local sources, 
or entrusting their appHcation to local authorities. It is 
obvious, too, that one central authority might so regulate its 
operations as to provide for the advantage of each province 
and district, by a plan which would be for the advantage of 
the whole ; while a number of separate and independent 
authorities might so conduct their proceedings as to produce 


Tax upon no combined and harmonious result. The Hnes of road, for 
^^^^ instance, selected by two neighbouring districts, each having 
an exclusive reference to the present state, or to what was 
supposed to be the individual interest of that district, might 
possibly be such as could not be made to coincide ; and they 
might each be such as, with reference to the prospective 
interests even of the district by which the lines of road were 
selected, ought not to be made in the first instance. One of 
the most injurious features in the legislative proceedings of 
the North Amercian colonies, is the spirit of local jobbing 
which prevails to an almost equal extent in all of them. To 
give to the legislature of each colony, or to the present local 
authorities, the apphcation of the funds to be raised by this 
tax, would be to give a fresh stimulus to the practices which 
at present prevail, and to incur an imminent hazard of having 
the whole proceeds of the tax employed in useless or purely 
local purposes, or wasted by the manner in which even useful 
works were accomplished. And even if this consideration 
might be safely disregarded, or the evil were considered as one 
for which a practical remedy might be found, it is obvious 
that in proportion to the magnitude of the operations carried 
on, is the efficiency of the superintendence that might be 
secured, and the economy with which the works might be 
conducted. The making of roads through a towTiship or 
a smaU district could not justify the employment of a really 
qualified engineer to superintend the work ; and if made, as 
such roads have always hitherto been, under no proper con- 
trol, the work is at once more costly and less durable than it 
ought to be. These considerations, however, refer solely to 
the application of the funds. Still more forcible reasons 
appear to require that the tax should be imposed by a central 
authority. If the imposition and amount of the tax be left 
to such local authorities as exist at present, then in very 
many cases the persons who will have to decide upon the 
amount of the tax to be levied, would be the very individuals 
upon whom it would fall ; and it is not unfair to presume that 
their view of what they ought to contribute would rather err 
on the side of inadequacy than the reverse. Or if the inhabi- 
tants of any district were to be the assessors, they might, in 
a natural impatience under the evils they have sustained, err 
on the other side, and impose a tax, the amount of which 
would tend to defeat the object for which it was levied. In 
one district, a proprietor might be called upon to pay an 
assessment far below, and in another as far above, what 
would be required by the real necessities of the case. There 



would be neither uniformity nor permanence in any of the Tax upon 
arrangements ; no measures to be provided for out of funds J^^^^ 
raised in this manner could be undertaken with confidence ^^ 
or carried out with vigour ; there would be a certainty that 
the objects for which a tax was imposed would be imperfectly 
obtained, and great risk that they might be altogether defeated. 
On these grounds, and still more perhaps on account of one 
of the purposes to which it appears expedient that the pro- 
ceeds of such a tax should be applied — ^that of being part of 
the security for a loan to be raised for the general improve- 
ment of the country — I think that it ought to be imposed 
and its continuance guaranteed by a central authority ; and, 
as it must be appHcable to all the colonies, that authority 
appears to be fitly the Imperial Parhament. 

The proper amount of the tax is also a topic of great difii- 
culty. There is no recognised standard of comparison by 
which it can be estimated, and the evidence of opinion on 
the subject is various and conflicting. Mr. Stayner recom- 
mends that the amount should be ^d. currency per acre at 
first, and that the tax should be doubled upon non-payment, 
till, in the event of its being unpaid for six years, it would 
amount to 2d. currency per acre for the whole period. A half- 
penny per acre is about the ultimate amount of the tax in 
Upper Canada, and Mr. Boulton and Mr. Ranken concur in 
representing that amount as far too low. The only standard 
of comparison that I can discover is, the amount of the 
burdens borne by the actual occupiers in Upper Canada, the 
only colony where a wild land-tax at present exists. These 
appear to be, on a farm of 100 acres — 

£ s. d. 
Statute labour, about . . . . . . - 15 - 

Tax upon cultivated land, say 30 acres . . .-26 

Wild land-tax upon 70 acres . . . . .-12 

£- 18 8 

or a fraction more than 2d. per acre. This, I am inclined to 
imagine, would be a fair amount. It is, perhaps, rather too 
low, but it is more expedient to err in that direction than 
to excit?e a just discontent by making it too high. The tax 
should be imposed upon all the waste lands in the provinces, 
the property in which is not at the present time in the public. 
But as the land in the different colonies varies very con- 
siderably in value, it would be unjust to compel the payment 
of this tax in money from all proprietors. In order, therefore, 
to prevent as far as possible any inequality in its operation, 


Tax upon it would be expedient that all proprietors of wild land should 
^^^ be allowed to pay this tax in land ; such land to be taken 
by the Government at the rate of 45. per acre, in lots of not 
less than 100 acres, and upon the certificate of a Government 
surveyor, that the land thus given up was of equal value in 
quality and situation to the average of the land upon which 
the tax was levied. And in the event of the tax not being 
paid for two years, the Government should be at Hberty to 
resume the land in respect of which default was made ; and 
the land thus resumed would then be open to purchase upon 
the same terms as all Government land ; paying to the owner 
of the land, when a sale was effected, 45. per acre for the 
amount sold, after deducting the tax due when the land was 
resumed. It will be seen that this price of 45. per acre is less 
than what is proposed as the future price for Government 
land ; but this is the value affixed by the Assembly of Upper 
Canada, to the claims of the U. E. loyaHsts and militia, and 
is greater than the real average value of wild land in any 
colony at the present time. By such an arrangement the 
interests of all persons would be consulted. Those who 
imagined that their land was at the present moment, or 
shortly would be, of greater value than 45. per acre, would 
of course pay the tax ; and those whose land, from its situa- 
tion or the nature of the soil, was less valuable, would of 
course make the payment in land. 

This measure, if fairly carried out, would in all probabihty 
remove, in the course of a very brief period, the evils under 
which the colonies now labour, so far as these have their 
origin in the mass of wild land in the hands of private indi- 
viduals ; and their result would be as advantageous to the 
owners of these lands as to the community at large. But 
there is one objection to the principle of such a tax, to which 
it is necessary to advert, because it has been urged by the 
proprietors of Prince Edward Island, in opposition to a bill 
which, as has been before stated, was recommended to the 
Assembly of that island by Lord Stanley, when Secretary of 
State for the Colonies, and which received the sanction of all 
the branches of the Provincial Legislature ; and because the 
force of the objection appears to have been recognised by 
Her Majesty's Principal Secretary for State for the Colonies, 
who, in consequence, advised Her Majesty to refuse or suspend 
her assent to such bill. The objection is, in effect, that any 
such tax proceeds upon a wrong principle ; that productive 
property is the only fit subject of a tax, and that this wild 
land, as unproductive property, ought to be exempt. It is 



not necessary here to enter into a discussion of the soundness Tax upon 
of the principle thus laid down, nor to do more than just Wild 
notice the fact, that the tax in question was only one-fifth 
per cent, upon the value which these proprietors put upon 
their wild land. Nor will I urge, what might fairly be urged, 
that a tax of this sort might be justified upon the mere ground 
that it was intended for the abatement of a nuisance ; the 
existence of which, for upwards of haK a century, had rendered 
this island the least prosperous, probably, of all the North 
American colonies, in spite of its great natural advantages. 
But the fact is, that any such tax, if properly apphed, either 
to the formation of roads, or towards providing for the general 
government of the province, accompHshes an object, in which 
every individual having property in the province has a direct 
and immediate interest, and in which none are more interested 
than these very wild-land proprietors, the whole value of 
whose property depends upon the extent to which such objects 
are effected. It is, indeed, a singular plea, that those whose 
industry gives value to a country should be highly taxed, in 
order that those who have done and determine to do nothing 
for this purpose should — ^for that is the necessary result — 
obtain a more certain market and a higher price for the 
property which they hold. It may in truth be said, that the 
wild-land proprietors are even more interested than any other 
class in the imposition of such a tax. Paying, as they will, 
and as they ought, at first rather largely in proportion to the 
present value of their land, they will almost immediately find 
that the value of their property is increased in a very far 
greater ratio ; while, as the alternative, if no such measure 
be adopted, they will discover that, though the nominal value 
of their land may continue the same, there will be every year 
less opportunity of finding purchasers. It may be well, too, 
to contrast the opinion formed by landholders who reside 
upon the spot, and who witness the actual operation of the 
present system, with that of these gentlemen who judge only 
from report ; and when it is found that the one advocate, 
as essential to their welfare, a measure which the other depre- 
cate as ruinous, no one can, I imagine, hesitate in preferring 
the former opinion. 

I pass now to the consideration of the measures which Crown 
should be adopted in reference to the pubHc land which yet l-*^^^^* 
remains ungranted, with a view to the prevention for the 
future of circumstances similar to those that the proposed 
tax is designed to remedy. Any system adopted in the dis- 
posal of the public land should be simple, uniform, and equal ; 


Crown and while it prevents the acquisition of land, except by those 
Lands. ^j^^ intend to use that which they acquire, should afford 
every facihty of selection and acquisition to such persons. 
No system hitherto adopted, in any colony, and the present 
probably in as little a degree as any, appears to possess any 
of these characteristics. The system now in force is com- 
plicated, irregular, and partial ; it neither checks the acquisi- 
tion of land by those who do not intend to improve it, nor 
facihtates such acquisition by those who do. The evidence 
of Mr. Davidson, of Mr. Kerr, and of Mr. Christie, with regard 
to Lower Canada ; of Mr. Sullivan, of Mr. Thornhill, of Mr. 
Hawke and of Mr. Boulton, with regard to Upper Canada ; 
of Mr. Morris and Sir R. George with regard to Nova Scotia ; 
and of Mr. Bailhe with regard to New Brunswick ; describe 
with more or less minuteness the general objections to the 
present system. None of these gentlemen urge any merely 
theoretical objections to the principles upon which the present 
plan is founded. They all speak upon a practical experience 
of the manner in which it operates ; and some of them in 
particular, from their official character, and their long and 
familiar acquaintance with the details of the system, are 
entitled to especial weight when they come forward to expose 
its errors. 

There are three particular defects in that system, to which 
it appears needful to advert for the purpose of explaining the 
grounds of the plan which I shall recommend in substitution 
of that now prevailing. These are, the want of sufficient 
liberty of selec :ion ; the f aciHties afforded for a premature 
or excessive acquisition of land ; and the diflSculties and delays 
in obtaining a title after the purchase is completed by the 
payment of the whole purchase-money. 

The plan contained in the Treasury instructions, under 
which the practice of sale was introduced, and continued to 
the present time, by making the Governor the exclusive judge 
of the quantity which ought to be put up for sale ; and by 
requiring that all sales should be by auction, has necessarily 
prevented any freedom of choice on the part of the purchasers. 
It appears, for instance, that in Upper Canada less than a fifth 
of the disposable Crown land has ever been open to purchase ; 
and although it may be, and doubtless has been the case, 
that the lots selected have been those which, in the opinion 
of the Governor, directed by the Commissioner of Crown 
lands, it would be most advantageous that settlers should 
occupy, it may fairly be doubted whether the settler would 
not be a better judge of the tract of land suited for his own 


purpose than any other individual : especially when that Crown 
individual, having probably little local knowledge, could only I^ands. 
be guided by vague general rules. It is true, that, as stated 
by Mr. Radenhurst and Mr. Davidson, an individual desiring 
a particular lot, might make a special apphcation to have it 
put up for sale, and that his application might be favourably 
received by the Governor ; but leaving on one side, as not likely 
to occur, the chance of his application being rejected, he would 
have to wait for some considerable period, while the lot was 
advertised for sale. During this period his expenses might 
far exceed the price to be paid for the lot ; and there would 
be a great risk of his being at last overbid by some person 
whose attention had been drawn to the tract he desired to 
purchase, solely in consequence of his apphcation. Without 
dwelhng on the abuses of the system, such as are described 
by Mr. Thornhill (which must nevertheless have been exceed- 
ingly injurious), because they result from a violation of the 
rules by which the Commissioner of the Crown lands ought to 
have been guided, I select two instances of this result of the 
plan of sale by auction, at the discretion of the Governor. 
One is described by Mr. Kerr, in which appHcants for a special 
survey and sale, after obtaining the consent of the Governor, 
and paying the expenses of survey, did not, in consequence 
of the system of auction, obtain more than a tenth of the land 
for which they had apphed, the remaining nine-tenths being 
purchased by speculators. The other is the case of the sale 
in Gaspe, referred to in the evidence of Mr. Davidson and of 
Mr. Christie. This case justifies a particular notice, because 
it exemplifies very forcibly the defects of the system. It 
appears that in 1836 an application was made for the special 
survey of 92,000 acres of land in the district of Gaspe, by some 
gentlemen, who undertook to purchase at least 50,000 acres 
of the land surveyed. The application was duly transmitted 
by the agent for the sale of pubHc lands in that district to the 
Commissioner of Crown land. That gentleman, on the receipt 
of the a{)plication, recommended to the Governor, that 35,000 
and not 92,000 acres, should be surveyed and offered for sale. 
The Governor approved of this recommendation, and gave 
the authority required. At this point the matter would 
probably have rested, if the decision of the Governor had been 
acted upon, since the apphcants would not have thought it 
worth while to incur the expenses contemplated for an amount 
of land inadequate to the purpose for which they desired to 
purchase it. In this case it would have been an instance in 
which the discretion vested in the Governor would have been 


Crown exercised in a manner to prevent the disposal of the public 
Lands. lands. But the Commissioner of Crown lands, upon receiving 
the authority for this limited sale, immediately directed the 
agent to survey and sell the whole amount of 92,000 acres. 
This was accordingly done. At the sale the original applicants 
purchased less than two-thirds of the land put up to auction ; 
the remainder being bought by rival speculators. Cases of 
this nature, and especially such as the former, must neces- 
sarily tend to deter intending purchasers, and to retard the 
settlement of the country. And these cases, in both of which 
the object of the special applicants was to a very considerable 
extent defeated, appear to have been the only two instances 
of special applications for the purchase of lands not included 
in the regular Government sales. 

I shall advert hereafter to the operation of the system of 
sale by auction, and to the grounds upon which it has been 
defended, for the purpose of explaining the reasons which 
induce me to recommend that it should be abandoned for the 
future. I have referred to it at present only for the purpose 
of pointing out this particular injurious consequence of the 

The practice of accepting payment by instalments for the 
land sold by the Crown, appears, from the concurrent testi- 
mony of those who have had the most extensive opportunities 
of witnessing its effects, to have operated very injuriously. 
It has induced many people to become holders and cultivators 
of land prematurely, before they had either the capital or the 
experience to fit them for this new position. Mr. SuUivan, 
Mr. Thornhill and Mr. Hawke, especially the last named 
gentleman, whose office as chief agent for emigrants in Upper 
Canada has given him peculiar faciUties for witnessing the 
working of this practice, describes forcibly its evil results. To 
use the words of Mr. Hawke, ' it has the effect of converting 
a number of useful labourers into indigent and useless farmers.' 
The position of such persons appears to be in every respect 
inferior to that which they had previously occupied as 
labourers ; and while they suffer from the want of the requi- 
site knowledge and capital necessary for the due cultivation 
of their land, the colony is injured by the loss of valuable 
labourers. A very few years would have sufficed to place 
them in a condition to have gone upon their farm in comfort, 
and with the means of cultivating it profitably ; and they 
would have waited until those means were at their disposal 
had they not been tempted by the small sum which sufficed 
to give them a temporary and insecure possession of 100 acres 


of Government land. In Lower Canada the low price at Crown 
which Government land has been sold (a great part at less Lands, 
than 3s. 6d. per acre), has led to the acquisition of very large 
tracts by individuals who hold them merely in the hope of 
being able at some future day to sell them at a profit, without 
any intention of improving them in the mean time ; and in 
New Brunswick and Nova Scotia a similar result appears to 
have been produced. 

The difficulties in the way of obtaining a title in Lower 
Canada are described with great force by Mr. Kerr. It appears 
from the testimony of the same gentleman, that fifteen months 
is the average time occupied in obtaining a title ; and as the 
settlers who purchase land generally reside at a considerable 
distance from Quebec, where alone a title can be procured, 
it is absolutely necessary that they should employ an agent ; 
and this necessity must very greatly enhance, to purchasers 
of a single lot, the cost of their land. In all the colonies the 
same central system prevails, and in all similar inconveniences 
are experienced ; though the singularly useless compHcation 
of process which prevails in Lower Canada, and the inadequate 
scale upon which the land granting offices in that Colony 
are constructed, especially in the inferior departments, have 
made the actual time occupied in obtaining a title far greater 
than in any other province. In Upper Canada this evil has 
been palHated by a recent Act of the Provincial Legislature, 
which makes it imperative upon the Commissioner of Crown 
Lands to transmit free of expense to the agent of every 
district, the title for all land which may have been sold within 
the district. 

In recommending a plan for the future disposal of public . 
lands in all the colonies, the main feature of which is that 
they shall be sold at a fixed, and not at an upset price, it 
may be thought necessary that some reason should be given 
for such a departure from the practice which has been so 
long estabUshed in each colony, and which apparently pre- 
vails in the United States. I say apparently prevails ; for 
in truth the system of auction in those States is even more 
nominal than in the British provinces. It is true that all the 
public land in the Union is in the first instance offered for 
sale by auction ; but the right of pre-emption allowed to 
actual occupants takes from under the operation of this 
system nearly all those lots which would be likely to excite 
competition. And whenever the land has been offered for 
sale, it is open at the upset price to every apphcant. I am 
not aware that any accurate information exists upon this 


Crown subject, but from what I could learn from individuals who 
Lands. had resided for a considerable period in those new States of 
the Union where land speculation was most rife, the propor- 
tion sold above the upset price was so small as to make the 
system practically a sale at an uniform fixed price. 

But whatever may be the practice estabHshed by precedent 
or sanctioned by usage in the colonies or elsewhere, the proper 
object of inquiry appears to be, whether the assumed or real 
advantages of that system are sufficient to outweigh the in- 
conveniences it produces ? It is by this test alone that any 
system can fairly be tried ; and if this test is applied, it will, 
I think, appear that the present system is one that it would 
be wise to abandon. Even prior to any practical experience 
of its working, I beheve that it might have been concluded 
that the system of auction was one which was not apphcable 
to the circumstances of a new country ; and experience has 
supplied the proof that such a conclusion was well founded. 
It is probable, indeed, that the practice was adopted partly 
with a view to guard against favouritism, but chiefly because 
of the very irregular practices which it superseded, and which 
had left at the disposal of the Crown, lands of such very 
unequal value ; and not from any opinion of the general 
utihty of the method. 

Even if the object of the Crown in the disposal of the public 
lands had been, which it would seem it ought not to be, the 
raising of the largest possible amount of revenue from this 
source, the very nature of the property to be disposed of 
would make the system of sale by auction inadequate to this 
end, unless indeed there had been coupled with it such a limita- 
• tion of the quantity of land brought into the market as would 
have occasioned a high degree of competition amongst the 
buyers. But in the way of such a result there were two in- 
surmountable obstacles ; the one, the existence in the colonies 
of tracts of land the property of private individuals ; and 
the other, the facihties of acquiring land in the neighbouring 
States. Both of these rendered it impossible that Crown lands 
should be sold above a certain price ; and the price for which 
they might fairly be sold would have been with the utmost 
certainty secured by the adoption of a fixed price. But there 
was in none of the colonies any such limit of the quantity 
exposed for sale as would have been required to produce com- 
petition. The consequence has been, to use the words of the 
Commissioner of Crown Lands for Upper Canada, ' that the 
system of sale by auction is a cumbrous dead letter, from 
which the public receives no advantage, while the settlers 



are seriously delayed in their locations.' In all the colonies Crown 
the system appears to have been attended with similar results. Lands. 
Mr. Davidson, the Commissioner of Crown Lands for Lower 
Canada, says, that the number of lots for which a higher price 
than the upset price has been obtained, do not amount to 
more than l-39th of the whole ; so that if the system of 
selling by auction were adopted for the purpose of raising 
a revenue, it must be considered to have failed in that respect. 

But allowing for a few unimportant exceptions, and they 
would be exceedingly few at the present time, the very object 
for which the plan of selUng by auction in certain cases is 
now defended, is one which Government ought not to pursue. 
The opportunity of obtaining a favourable lot at the fixed 
price of all Government land, is the proper reward of the 
trouble and sagacity of the individual who has discovered it, 
and the appropriate stimulus to well-directed incursions upon 
the wilderness. But the practice of selhng by auction tends 
to deprive such persons of the natural fruits of their skill 
and enterprise, in order that some insignificant i)ecuniary 
advantage may be reaped by the public. It is true that a mill 
seat, or a favourable situation for a town, may, under the 
present system, sell for ten or twenty dollars an acre, instead 
of one or two ; but the chance of being outbid at auction 
must deter persons from attempting to discover such locations, 
and check in a degree which it is not easy to appreciate the 
general enterprise of the colony. Gaining some inconsider- 
able fraction upon the aggregate amount of sales. Government 
still further represses that spirit of adventurous effort which 
there are already too many circumstances in the present 
position of the colonies to check. The profit may be counted 
in dollars ; the loss it would be difficult to estimate. It 
would, in fact, appear, that all the land in the colonies might 
be sold by auction with less pubhc and personal injury, than 
those lots which, singularly enough, have always been selected 
as the portions of the province which were to be ahenated 
with the greatest reserve. Agreeing in the opinion pronounced 
by all witnesses as to the inutility of the system of auction 
in those cases in which it has been proved to be inoperative, 
I regard it as especially injurious in those cases in which it 
has produced its intended result. 

While for the reasons thus stated, it appears expedient that 
the price of public lands should be fixed, instead of an upset 
price ; there are other reasons which seem to lead to the 
conclusion, that it should be uniform instead of variable. It 
is undoubtedly true, that the present value of public lands 


Crown is variable in the highest degree. Twenty pounds an acre 
Lands. might be more advantageously paid for some, than a shilling 
per acre for other lots. Depending for its value, as land 
must in all, but more obviously in new countries, upon its 
vicinity to a market, and the means of transport available for 
its produce, such a difference necessarily exists. It may, 
therefore, appear impolitic, and even unjust, to affix the same 
price to lands so different in value. But the land which is of 
little value to a settler, because of its remoteness from settle- 
ment, is land which for his interest, no less than for that of 
the community, it is desirable he should not occupy. The 
opposite system appears curiously contrived, in order to tempt 
individuals of the poorer class to settle themselves in situa- 
tions in which their industry must be wasted in protracted 
and unaided struggles against obstacles which no industry 
can suffice to overcome. The results that must be produced 
by such a practice are described by Mr. SuUivan, in a passage 
referred to above, where he is speaking of the effect of the 
system of selling by instalment, and by Mr. Hawke, where 
he describes the case of a settler who had got 13 bushels of 
com ground, at an expense in time and labour, in carrying it 
to and from the nearest mill, of 51., being far more than the 
selling price of wheat in the district. It is obvious that land 
thus situated, whatever might be its natural fertility, could 
have no real value for the purpose of settlement ; and that the 
interest of individuals, as well as that of the community, would 
be consulted by the adoption of measures which would prevent 
its acquisition, until population and markets had so increased 
in the neighbourhood as to render its occupation desirable. 

It has indeedbeen argued with some plausibiUty , that although 
an uniformity of price for all pubhc lands may be advisable 
as a general rule, there are nevertheless circumstances in the 
actual state of the North American colonies, produced by the 
past conduct of Government, which would render the imme- 
diate appUcation of any such rule highly unjust. The argu- 
ment assumes, that the owners and occupiers of land, both in 
those districts where the value of land is at present greatest, 
and in those where it is least, would be injured by the adoption 
of any uniform price. The former, because it would diminish 
the value of their land by enabHng settlers to obtain Govern- 
ment land at a lower price than the actual selling price of 
wild land in the district. The latter, because settlement 
would be checked by the removal of the inducement to settle- 
ment now furnished by the comparatively low price of land 
in their neighbourhood. It is not perhaps necessary to go 


into any examination of the principles upon which this argu- Crown 
ment rests, because it appears to proceed upon an entire I^^^^- 
misapprehension of the facts of the case. In Upper Canada 
especially, where the difference in the value of land is most 
striking, the quantity of land remaining at the disposal of 
the Crown is so small as to render the operation of a fixed 
and uniform Government price upon the selling value of wild 
land, the property of individuals, almost inappreciable. It 
has been already stated, that out of 17,000,000 of acres, com- 
prised in the surveyed townships, of which probably nearly 
15,000,000 are still unoccupied, very little more than 1,000,000 
acres remain at the present moment in the hands of the 
Government ; and these are the refuse lands of the colony, 
for which no person entitled to a grant has hitherto thought 
it worth his while to apply. The settlement of the colony 
and the price of land in any district, can therefore scarcely 
be influenced by the operations of Government in the disposal 
of its waste lands. They depend far more upon the price 
demanded by private holders. It is very probable that all or 
nearly all of this remaining public land is of such a quality 
as to render its present occupation unadvisable. A seven- 
teenth part of the land of a new country is even a small pro- 
portion for refuse and unavailable land. Whatever price 
might be put upon this land by the Crown, even if it were 
all of a fair average quality, would affect in a very slight 
degree the general value of land in any district ; and assum- 
ing its quality to be, as is stated by Mr. Radenhurst, very 
inferior, its price would have no immediate operation of any 
sort. Unless, indeed, that by fixing a price proportioned to 
the present value of such land, settlers might be induced to 
acquire such land rather than other land, more highly priced 
but more fertile, and thus the productive industry of the 
country be directed precisely to those portions of its soil 
which would yield the smallest and most niggardly returns. 
A period may be expected to arrive when the growth of 
population, the vicinity of markets, the facilities of obtaining 
manure, and the diminished cost of transport, will render 
the occupation of these less fertile lands more profitable to the 
individual, and therefore to the community, than that of 
lands more fertile, but of a less advantageous position. When 
this period arrives, the price affixed to them will form no 
obstacle to their cultivation ; but until this is the case, it 
would be a clear violation of the duty of Government to hold 
out any peculiar inducement to settlers to establish them- 
selves upon such lots. 

1352.3 H 


Crown Nor must it be forgotten, in any consideration of the 

Lands. probable effects of the plan suggested for the adoption of 
Government with regard to the future disposal of the public 
lands, that the proposed measures do not stand alone. They 
form part of a large and comprehensive measure, one main 
object of wliich is to produce a great degree of equahty in 
the value of all wild land, whether the property of individuals 
or of the Cro^vll, by giving equal facilities of comniunication 
to every part of the country. Those districts in which the 
price of land is lowest, are those in which there is the most 
striking deficiency in all the circumstances upon which the 
value of land depends. To remove this deficiency will have 
a far greater effect in attracting, than any rise of price could 
have in deterring settlement. And even if the immediate 
result of any uniformity of price should be to attract new 
settlers to the more thickly-peopled districts, the present 
inhabitants of the less populous parts of the country would 
gain much more from the making of roads in their neighbour- 
hood, not merely on account of its removing one of the chief 
obstacles to their progress, but also because of the market 
which would be thus brought home to their door, by the 
expenditure of the Government, in these public works, than 
they could lose in the temporary check to settlement assumed 
by the argument to be the result of the plan. 

With respect to the other aspect of the question, the sup- 
posed tendency of an uniform price to lower the value of land 
in those districts where at present it is highest, it may be 
doubted whether any such price as would be fixed by the 
Government could have that effect. Population is one of 
the chief elements in the value of land. Where population is 
most dense, there invariably the price of land is highest. Any 
addition to the population of a district must therefore, it 
would appear, have an influence in raising the value of land ; 
and this to a much greater extent than the lower price of 
Government land could have in depressing it. In proportion 
too as population is dense at present, the quantity of public 
land yet remaining undisposed of must be inconsiderable ; 
and thus where the assumed injury would be greatest, the 
power of inflicting it would be least. The argument wliich 
has been urged against the adoption of an uniform price 
appears therefore not merely to be founded upon a miscon- 
ception of the real facts of the case, but to be erroneous, even 
upon the assumption that the facts are such as it presupposes. 
For, further, the price to be fixed as that at which all 
public land is to be sold, ought not to be a mere arbitrary 



amount. It should be just that price which, having reference Crown 
to all the circumstances of the country, appears most cal- ^^^^^' 
culated to facilitate settlement, and at the same time to check 
both an excessive and a premature acquisition of land by 
settlers. It ought to be so low as that no one who possesses 
the means of improving the land, should be deterred from 
purchasing it, and so high that no one should be tempted to 
acquire it before he possesses these means, or in greater 
quantities than his means will enable him to occupy with 
profit. In the North American colonies also there is a further 
consideration which must be kept in view in fixing the price, 
which it is to be feared will in some degree interfere with the 
latter object. The price of land must not be so high as to 
drive purchasers into the United States, in order that they 
may avail themselves of the low price at which pubHc land 
can be procured there. But having in view the objects above 
described, it may fairly be doubted whether any consideration 
of circumstances, necessarily both partial and temporary, 
ought to prevent the adoption of such a price. Government 
ought not, it would appear, to affix upon any portion of the 
public land a price unduly restrictive of appropriation, in 
order to keep up the price of land held as private property ; 
nor ought it, on account of any supposed check to settlement, 
to fix a price which would encourage the appropriation of 
excessive quantities of land, or tempt individuals to settle 
themselves upon land, which they had not the means of 
cultivating. The dearly-bought experience of past years 
would indeed be fruitless if now, from any such motives, these 
worst errors of former proceedings were to be renewed in any 
new plan. 

Upon every ground, therefore, it appears expedient that the 
price of public lands should for the future not only be fixed 
but uniform. 

The price required for pubhc lands, also, should be payable 
at the time of sale. The practice of accepting payment by 
instalments, which has been continued in Upper Canada, in 
violation of the instructions of Lord Glenelg, besides inducing 
a premature acquisition of land, has the further effect of 
rendering altogether nugatory whatever price may be fixed 
upon pubhc lands, at least with respect to that land which is 
purchased by the poorer class of settlers. It is stated by 
Mr. SuUivan that no measures can be attempted safely to 
enforce the payment of the arrears now due from persons of 
this class ; and Mr. Hawke gives an instance in which Govern- 
ment has actually abandoned claims of this nature to the 



Crown amount of 30,000^ The system of sale by instalments had 
Lands. \)^i^ tried and abandoned in tlie United States long previously 
to its adoption in the North American Colonies. It was 
abandoned, not merely because of the impossibility of obtain- 
ing payment of the arrears, but also because of the danger to 
be apprehended from the existence of a large body of settlers 
in all of the new States, who were supposed to be favourable 
to any proceedings which, by weakening the authority of the 
Government, might diminish its power of enforcing payment 
from them. Without inquiring how far any of the settlers in 
Upper Canada are under the influence of any such feeling, 
I may venture to state my opinion, that it is unwise to give 
to any class so powerful an inducement to assist or acquiesce 
in any change of Government, as is afforded by the prospect 
of escaping from a heavy debt, and of acquiring an absolute 
instead of a quahfied and insecure title to the land they 
occupy. I therefore recommend, that the whole purchase- 
money of pubhc lands should be paid at the time of purchase. 
At this uniform price, all pubhc land should be open to 
purchase by everybody in unUmited quantities. The attempt 
to fix a limit to the amount which an individual may acquire, 
must indeed be always practically unavailing, because it is 
impossible to prevent any one who desires to become a 
purchaser of a quantity beyond the assigned limit, from 
acquiring such larger quantity in the name and through the 
instrumentality of others. But if it could be successful, it 
could have no other result than that of checking enterprise 
and retarding settlement. The adoption of any measure of 
tliis kind, too, is a tacit confession of the inadequacy and 
incompleteness of the system which requires such an adjunct. 
It amounts to an acknowledgment that the price of land is 
so low as to tempt individuals to acquire land which they do 
not intend, or are unable to improve. If the price be sufficient, 
then the larger the amount of land purchased, the more 
effectually mil the purposes of Government be accomplished. 
The Hmitation of the quantity to be disposed of, is a cum- 
brous device for effecting in an indirect way an object which 
Government confesses itself unwilHng or unable to effect 
directly ; and like all such devices, it fails in the very cases 
against which it was specially intended to provide. 

The ground commonly assigned for the adoption of some 
limit, is the necessity of guarding against the acquisition of 
land by speculators. In all our North American colonies, the 
feeling in which this practice has originated, prevails most 
extensively. Everywhere complaints are heard against specu- 



lators ; and most of the witnesses examined in reference to Crown 
this subject, attributed the evils endured by the country to Lands, 
the extent to which speculation in wild lands had been carried. 
It is difficult to suppose that an opinion so deep rooted, and 
so widely diffused, could be altogether unfounded in fact ; 
but that it should have any substantial foundation, marks 
most forcibly the extent to which the lavish proceedings of 
former Governments have affected the prosperity of the 
colonies. In the United States of America, much of the 
prosperity of the new States is attributable and is attributed 
to the operations of speculators and land-jobbers. More 
money has been invested, and with greater profit to the 
individuals and the community, in this, than probably in 
any other way. But the American speculator is actively 
employed in endeavouring to give value to his land ; while 
the Colonial speculator is content to wait passively until the 
giadual increase of population and the progress of settlement 
liave effected this object for him. The former desires, and 
takes the means to obtain, a large immediate gain to himself ; 
the latter consoles himself with the reflection that he has 
acquired a property w^hich will be valuable to his grand- 
children. The one immediately occupies himself in making 
roads, laying out the sites of towns, building mills, taverns 
and churches, and thus attracts a population, which enables 
him at once to secure a large profit upon his investment. The 
other allows the land he has purchased to he waste, and thus 
not merely to remain as unattractive to settlers as when it 
was purchased, but to impede the course of settlement around. 
In proportion to the extent to which speculation is carried 
in the States of the Union, the growth and prosperity of the 
district are stimulated ; while in the colonies the extent of 
speculation is at once the indication and the cause of 
stagnation and decay. But little money is invested in the 
purchase of land in the former country without yielding a large 
profit, but in the latter, large sums have been invested at 
a loss. It is impossible to ascribe so striking a difference in 
the nature and results of the courses pursued in the two 
countries to any difference of character in the people by 
whom they are adopted. This may have some effect ; but 
the real cause of the difference is to be found in the different 
circumstances of the two countries, produced by the opposite 
practices of the Government. A colonist who should purchase 
land in the States would be impelled to improve it by the 
certainty of obtaining a large profit upon the capital thus 
invested, as w^ell as by the contagious influence of the general 


Cro^vn spirit of enterprize and progress ; while a native of the United 
Lands. States who should purchase land in the colonies, would be 
checked in any expenditure intended to increase its value, 
by the certainty of incurring a heavy loss. But the remedy 
for the evils now produced in our colonies by speculation in 
land, is not to be found in any necessarily unavailing attempts 
to deter or check speculators, but in removing the causes 
which give to speculation its present stagnant and repressive 
character. So soon as the holder of land finds that money 
invested in its improvement will quicken and augment the 
returns which he expects eventually to obtain from it, we 
may be assured that the work of improvement will begin ; 
but until tliis is the case, it is of course fruitless to anticipate 
any change in the present practice. As, however, the measures 
already proposed for the imposition and application of a tax 
upon wild lands may be expected to effect this object, with 
regard to lands already disposed of, and as the same measures 
will have a tendency to prevent for the future any similar 
consequences to those which they are intended to remedy, it 
appears that facilities should be given to speculation, rather 
than obstacles be tliro\^Ti in its way. In fact, it may almost 
be said that one of the objects which Government should pro- 
pose to itself in any plan for the disposal of the waste public 
lands, ought to be to encourage the investment of capital in 
the purchase and improvement of land with a view to its 

Not merely, however, ought there to be no limitation in 
the amount which any individual may purchase ; still less 
should there be any limit as respects the position or character 
of the land. There should not be, under any pretence, or for 
any purpose, a portion of the colony closed against purchase 
or settlement. Every reserve, of whatever nature, or to what- 
ever object it may be destined, should at once be thro\Mi open 
to acquisition, upon the same terms as the waste public lands 
still unappropriated. School and college, and clergy reserves, 
must, in justice to the public, be brought at once into the 
market. To permit of the continuance of the present, or 
the formation of any fresh reserves for public purposes, would 
be, I will not say to peril, but to prevent the success of any 
plan. It would indeed be an act of palpable injustice, while 
imposing a tax upon the proprietors of land held in a wild 
state, on account of the injury which their property inflicts 
upon the public, to keep two milUons of acres in one colony 
still a desert. The persons upon whom the proposed wild 
land tax would fall, appear to be reconciled to its imposition, 



because, as they conceive, it is to be part of a complete and Crown 
effectual measure for the removal of all the obstacles to settle- Lands, 
ment presented by the present position of the colonies. If, 
however, the measure be so incomplete as the permitted con- 
tinuance of the existing reserves supposes, it would be vain 
to hope that these individuals would acquiesce in that part 
of it wliich presses particularly upon them. Nor can it be 
denied that, under such circumstances, the proposed tax 
would wear in some degree an appearance of injustice, nor 
that it would be vain to hope for any marked success for the 
plan of which it forms a part. 

It is obvious, indeed, as has been confessed by every person 
who has made inquiries upon the subject, that such reserves 
are most wasteful in their operation. The object contem- 
plated by ParUament in estabUsliing the system of clergy 
reserves, could not have been obtained in a more injurious 
manner. In order that there might be a wealthy church in 
the Canadas, free from the odium wliich it was supposed 
must attach to it if supported by any direct impost, it was 
endowed with land which, valueless in itself, could only 
become valuable by the labours of the settlers in its neigh- 
bourhood. But these reserves, had more influence in retarding 
the progress of settlement, than the labours of the settlers 
had in increasing their value. The prosperity of the colony 
was gi-eatly retarded, but the value of the lands appropriated 
for the clergy A\as but little augmented. The average price • 
per acre at a\ hich the clergy reserves in Lower Canada have 
been sold, is less than 5s. ; and thougli there have been 
apparently well-founded complaints against the late com- 
missioner for the sale of clergy reserves in that Province, on 
account of the wasteful nature of the sales \\liich he made, 
these complaints refer but to a small portion of the property, 
and the average price would probably have been raised in 
only a very trifling degree if no such waste had occurred. In 
Upper Canada, the small proportion which has been sold, has, 
under the system of sale by auction, and of accepting pay- 
ment by 10 annual instalments, produced the nominal amount 
of 155. per acre. Yet this can by no means be taken as a fair 
test of the value of these reserves in general, and has only 
been obtained in respect of the sixth which has been sold, 
after their injurious effects upon the community had been 
experienced for nearly half a century. It would be difficult 
to find many instances of so small a gain purchased by so 
large an injury. 

I have in a previous part of this Report adverted to the 


CroAvn dissensions produced by the nature of the purpose to \\hich 
Lands. these reserves have been destined. And I may suggest, that 
\\hatever may be the determination of Government with 
regard to the appropriation of the funds produced by the 
sale of these reserves, the difficulties in the way of the adjust- 
ment of that question, cannot but be greatly diminished by 
the removal of those injuries which the actual reservation 
of land has inflicted upon the colony. When the obstructions 
to progress, occasioned by these vast tracts of appropriated 
wilderness no longer exists, it may be expected that, as one 
great cause of irritation is destroyed, parties \\dll discuss with 
more calmness the claims of those who now demand to engross 
or to divide the funds which they produce. 

In expressing thus decidedly the opinion which I have 
been compelled to adopt with reference to these reserves, 
I may mention that my remarks apply only to the actual 
reservation of land from settlement. Whatever purpose the 
reserves were originally, or may hereafter be, designed to 
fulfil, would be as certainly accomplished by setting apart 
a corresponding portion of the proceeds of future sales of 
public lands ; and the sum produced by the sale of the 
existing reserves will of course be disposed of in the manner 
determined upon with, respect to that which has been already 
received from this source. 
Title to It would be obviously necessary that any plan for the 
Lands, ^ future disposal of pubhc lands should contain a sufiicient 
provision for giving to the purchaser a complete and satis- 
factory title for the land purchased. Any uimecessary delay 
or expense in obtaining a title, not merely operates as an 
useless and injurious addition to the cost of the land, but has 
a tendency to deter purchasers, and thus to retard settlement. 
The comphcation of every system hitherto adopted in the 
different colonies, has been a natural result of the want of all 
real responsibility in the land-granting department. But like 
almost all similar contrivances, this multiphcation of checks 
has not only failed to effect its purpose, but has produced 
fresh evils in addition to those it was intended to prevent or 
remove. The evidence which has been given on tliis subject 
by Mr. Kerr, Br. Baldwin, and others, exhibits the evils of 
delay and uncertainty in obtaining titles ; and the present 
state of the Crown lands in all the North American Provinces 
sufficiently proves how utterly unavailing the reference to 
different offices has been, as a means of preventing excessive 
or improper grants. The system which I should recommend 
for the future, is one similar to that practised in the United 


States ; partially introduced into Upper Canada by the recent Title to 
Act of the Provincial Legislature for regulating the disposal ^^^^s* 
of public lands ; and most successfully pursued under the 
authority of an Act of the Imperial ParUament in the new 
colony of South Austraha. Forms of deeds should be pre- 
pared, requiring only to be filled up with the name of the 
purchaser, and the description of the lot purchased ; and the 
signature of the chief agent for the sale of lands in the district 
should be required to give them vahdity. In the meantime, 
until this signature is obtained, a certificate of payment of 
the purchase money, in respect of a particular lot, should be 
given to the purchaser ; to be exchanged for the deed at 
a certain fixed period ; and in the meantime to be trans- 
ferrable by assignment. In this manner every purchaser 
would at once possess a marketable title ; and the necessary 
time could be allowed for any system of issuing and register- 
ing titles which it might be thought expedient to adopt. 

There is one essential preliminary to any plan for the disposal Surveys, 
of the public lands, without wliich it is impossible that there 
should be certainty or regularity for the future — ^the survey 
of the whole land of the province, whether granted or un- 
granted. It is not easy to exaggerate the confusion and errors 
wliich prevail in all the colonies with respect to the existing 
surveys. With very few exceptions, no man can be said to 
possess a secure title to his land, or even to know whether 
the spot upon which he is settled, belongs to himself or to - 
his neighbour, or the Crown. Lots wliich, according to the 
diagram in the surveyor-general's office, appear to be of 
regular figure and of equal dimensions, are in reality of the 
most varied form and unequal size. A grant from the Crown 
which professes to convey 200 acres, has in reahty conveyed 
a quantity varying from 120 to 280 acres. In many cases, 
too, lots have been granted which have been found to have 
no existence, except upon the map. Even at the present 
moment, these errors are productive of much inconvenience, 
and of considerable litigation. But their present effects form 
no measure of the injuries which may be anticipated from 
them. Land is not now of sufficient value, in the greater 
part of every province, to induce its owners to adopt measures 
to ascertain or enforce their rights. In many cases, too, the 
occupier of a lot has no neighbour who could dispute his 
claims to the boundaries assigned or assumed to his property. 
But in proportion as the increase of population gives value 
to land, and fills up the intervening vacancies between settlers, 
it is obvious that questions of boundary and title must arise, 


{Surveys, which under the existhig state of the surveys can only be 
settled by legal proceedings, and wliich must form an abun- 
dant and interminable source of litigation. The circum- 
stances that have hitherto prevented these consequences 
from occurring in any great degree, place it still in the power 
of the Government to adopt measures of prevention. A fresh 
and accurate survey would define the boundaries of all lots ; 
and if this were accompanied by an enactment, securing to 
actual settlers, land upon which improvements had been made 
upon the faith of existing surveys, or wliich was obviously 
necessary to enable them to enjoy the benefit of such improve- 
ments, all substantial injustice would be avoided. This could 
not, it is true, be effected without considerable expense ; but 
that would surely be a false economy which should perpetuate 
evils so great as those which must arise from this cause, on 
account of the expense to be incurred in their removal. More- 
over, this reform is but part of a general measure, which will 
itself provide the funds for carrying it into execution. 

Squatters, There is another subject upon w^hich it is I beheve abso- 
lutely necessary to legislate. Throughout all of the North 
American provinces a very considerable portion of the popula- 
tion consists of squatters ; persons, that is, who have settled 
upon land the property of the Crown, or of private individuals, 
without a title. The causes of tliis irregularity are various. 
In Upper and Lower Canada it has arisen chiefly, if not entirely, 
from the difficulties, often amounting to impossibihty, in the 
^^ ay of obtaining land by persons of no influence \\ ho desired 
it for actual settlement. The profusion of the Government in 
granting land has, in fact, placed serious, and, in many cases, 
insurmountable obstacles to its acquisition, by those who had 
but little property, and no influence. While the utmost 
facilities were afforded to those whose only object in obtaining 
a grant, was to profit by a future sale of the land, there has 
been in effect, if not in intention, an equal niggardhness with 
respect to those who would have improved their grant. In 
many cases, also, it was impossible, without the expense of 
a journey to the capital of the province, to ascertain whether 
or not the land upon which a person was desirous of locating 
himself, belonged to the Government ; and even when this 
point was ascertained, there was no certainty of being able 
to acquire it. In Upper Canada, in addition to these diffi- 
culties, the Alien Law, which was passed shortly after the 
last war with the United States, has rendered it impossible 
for an American citizen to obtain land from the Government 
upon any terms. The result of these circumstances has been, 


^^ave no title to the soil which they cultivate. This is not 
Inerely injurious, by rendering their mode of husbandry 
slovenly and exhausting, but it has also rendered them luke- 
warm in their loyalty to a Government under which they 
have no security for the enjoyment of the fruits of their 
labour. It may, perhaps, be argued, that they are not entitled 
to this advantage, and that they ought to bear the con- 
sequences of their illegal and unauthorized occupation ; but 
without entering into the question of the absolute right of 
these persons to the enjoyment of the property which they 
have created, it cannot, I think, be deemed that, under all 
the circumstances of these colonies, it is expedient to add 
this great practical grievance to those causes of dissatisfac- 
tion which already exist. The habits of the whole population 
of North America, and the laws of the United States, have 
given a sanction to the practice of squatting, which has been 
confirmed in this case by the negligence of the Government, 
or of the non-resident proprietor. 

In the Lower Provinces, the practice is attributable in part 
to similar causes, but chiefly, apparently, to the absence of 
all other means of obtaining a livehhood. In Nova Scotia 
and New Brunswick, but especially in the former, emigrants 
on their arrival can find no employment for wages. The 
profusion of the government in granting its land has checked 
to so great an extent the prosperity of these provinces, that 
the actual settlers are too few or too poor to be enabled to 
employ labourers ; and an emigrant, therefore, must either 
proceed at once to the United States, or, in order to support 
himself, must occupy the first vacant lot, from the cultiva- 
tion of which he can alone procure a livelihood. To disturb 
a possession occasioned by such causes would be unjust as 
well as inexpedient. There may be particular cases which 
do not merit any indulgence, but it would be impossible to 
separate such from the mass ; and, therefore, there should be 
some provision by which all persons occupying land to which 
they have no title, should be, if not secured in the possession 
of the land they occupy, at least guaranteed the full benefit 
of their improvements. With respect to those who have 
settled upon government land, this may be easily effected by 
allowing them to become purchasers at the uniform price of 
public lands, as has been already done in Lower Canada, by 
a proclamation of your Excellency ; and, if needful, even 
allowing a certain period within which the purchase money 
may be paid. With respect to those who occupy land, the 


{Squatters, jjroperty of private individuals, it would be necessary to pass 
a law entitling them to compensation for their improvements 
by valuation. Such a measure would not only give a great 
immediate stimulus to the industry of the country, but it 
would have a most useful effect in confirming the loyalty 
of many who are at present described as looking with hope 
rather than reluctance to the subversion of the existing 

It also appears expedient that public land in all the North 
American colonies should be open to purchase by all persons, 
to whatever country they may belong ; requiring, if neces- 
sary, that the subject of a foreign power should at the time 
of purchase take the oath of allegiance. Such a measure 
appears especially desirable with regard to citizens of the 
United States* No people are so adapted to encounter the 
fatigues and privations of the wilderness ; none form such 
efficient pioneers of civilization. In both the Canadas almost 
every settlement which has reached any degree of prosperity 
has been commenced by persons of this class ; and it is 
impossible to conceive a more striking contrast than is fur- 
nished by the present state of settlements thus formed by 
persons who had no property when they entered the bush, 
as it is termed, but an axe and a camp kettle ; and that of 
settlements formed by British emigrants possessed of con- 
siderable capital. The Americans have almost uniformly 
prospered ; the European emigrants have always been slow 
in their progress, and have not unfrequently been ruined. 
Indeed there appears to be in this, as in almost every other 
pursuit, a natural division of employments ; and this is 
practically understood in all parts of the United States. One 
class of persons attach themselves almost entirely to the 
occupation of breaking up new land. They go into the wilder- 
ness, select a favourable location, erect a small hut, and com- 
mence the task of clearing. In a few years the progress of 
settlement brings other settlers into their neighbourhood, 
and they then sell their improvements, and again move off 
several miles in advance of the tide of population, repeating 
the same process as often as they are overtaken by it. By 
their labours the difficulties of a first settlement are, to a great 
extent, obviated ; those who succeed them are spared the 
worst and most disheartening part of the toils of a settler ; 
and the work of settlement proceeds more rapidly and pros- 
perously than w^ould be the case if those who eventually 
occupy the land, had been also the persons by whom it had 
been first reclaimed. In the Canadas, on account of the 



previous habits of emigrants, which have given them no Squatters 
experience of the peculiar diflficulties of settlement in the 
wilderness, and even unfitted them for a successful struggle 
with its hardships, such a class as the American pioneers 
would have been eminently useful ; but there, owing partly 
to direct legislation founded upon poHtical grounds, and 
partly to the proceedings of the government by whom all the 
lands which such persons could occupy, have been alienated, 
this class has had no existence. If, however, it be intended 
that these colonies should be the home of any considerable 
portion of the people of the United Kingdom, it can hardly 
be doubted that encouragement should be given to persons 
of this class, or, at least, that all direct impediments to their 
exertions should be removed. If, however, from any grounds 
similar to those which induced the legislature of Upper Canada 
to pass the AHen Bill, to which I have referred, the British 
North American colonies should be closed against citizens of 
the United States, it is to be feared that, in spite of all that 
may be done to remove existing obstacles to their progress, 
or to encourage emigration, they must continue to exhibit 
the same mortifying inferiority to the neighbouring states 
which is at present everyAvhere apparent ; while, should this 
restriction be removed, it may be fairly anticipated that 
the practical skill of the Americans in this respect, aided by 
British capital, and stimulated by the constant influx of 
emigrants desirous of purchasing the improved land, would 
enable the Colonies to rival, if not to surpass, the progress 
of the most flourishing states of the Union. 

The price which it would be expedient to afiix to the pubHc Price of 
land is not easily determined. Nor shall I discuss the prin- ^" * 
ciples which would determine the proper price in a colony 
for which we might legislate without regard to the proceed- 
ings of adjoining countries. In the immediate neighbourhood 
of the United States, where the government has never sought 
any higher object in putting a price on new land, than that 
of preventing appropriation without cultivation, it would be 
idle to seek, by means of a price for new land, the more impor- 
tant end of securing an ample and constant supply of labour 
for hire. In respect to the price of pubHc land, legislation for 
the North American Colonies must necessarily be governed 
by the course of the United States. In their immediate 
neighbourhood it would be impossible to adopt the leading 
principle on which the colony of South AustraUa has been 
founded, and which was recommended by a Select Committee 
of the House of Comons in 1836. One might as well attempt 


Price of to maintain in the British Colonies a totally different currency 
Land. from that which prevails in the American Union. 

Satisfied, however, that the price of new land required by 
the American government is too low, even for the objects 
which it has in view, and also that a somewhat higher price 
would not induce British emigrants to prefer a foreign country 
for settlement, I would adopt the highest price which would 
not have that effect. That in every colony the price is too 
low, appears evident from the fact that it has encouraged 
rather than deterred the acquisition of land by persons who 
do not intend to settle or improve it, and that it has induced 
numbers to become purchasers with very inadequate means. 
In Upper Canada, where the price has been apparently highest, 
the latter result has been produced very extensively. But 
there, though the nominal price has averaged 10<s. per acre, 
yet the sum which has actually been obtained in the great 
majority of cases in which persons of the labouring class have 
become purchasers, is in reahty very little more than a fourth 
of this amount, because, in such cases, only the first instal- 
ment has generally been paid. In every colony, therefore, 
the real price can scarcely be said to have been more than 
from 2s. to 45. per acre, while in the United States the uniform 
price is a dollar and a quarter, or 6s. 3d. per acre. I am 
inchned to think, that lOs. per acre would not exceed a safe 
limit. But this is, perhaps, a point which would be more 
properly left to the determination of that special and respon- 
sible authority to which I propose that the whole administra- 
tion of the public lands in the colonies should be confided. 
Some further remarks upon the subject, however, may not 
be misplaced here. 

That at such a price the sales of public land would for 
some time be very inconsiderable, is highly probable ; but this 
appears to be a recommendation instead of an objection to 
the measure. It is not for the interest of the colonies that any 
very large amount of the land yet remaining at the disposal 
of the Crown should be occupied for the present. That part 
of every colony which ought first to be settled, is in the 
possession of private persons. Until the tracts already appro- 
priated are fully settled, it would be wasteful and injurious to 
encourage settlement upon the remaining public lands. And 
when these tracts are covered with inhabitants, the general 
value of land in the colonies will be so far advanced as to 
make tliis price really lower than that which is required at 
present ; and therefore to give greater encouragement to pur- 
chase than is now afforded. This view is strikingly supported 



by the results of the different prices at present demanded in Price of 
the different colonies. In Nova Scotia, 2s. per acre, payable I^^nd. 
in four annual instalments, is found to be too high a price, 
having reference to the circumstances of the country and to 
the means of the settlers ; while in Upper Canada there has 
been no deficiency of pui'chasers from the Government and 
the Canada Company, at a price more than five times this 
amount. This difference is easily explained by a considera- 
tion of the condition of each colony, and the fact that there 
has been a large introduction of both capital and labour into 
the latter colony, while no capitalists have been attracted 
into the former ; and consequently no employment has existed 
for the few labourers who have arrived there. In neither 
colony has the mere price of government land had any effect 
upon the abihty of individuals to become purchasers. In 
both, this has depended upon circumstances altogether inde- 
pendent of that price. 

It is obviously in the power of government to create in all 
the colonies such a state of things as may make the purchase 
of wild land at the higher price proposed, more advantageous 
than now at the lower. The only question, consequently, is 
A\hether, having regard to the object for which any price 
is required, and to the manner in which it is to be applied, 
10<9. per acre is higher than ought to be required, or than 
purchasers will generally be found wilHng to give. 

In the United States, the money derived from the sale of 
public land, is apphed in aid of the general revenue. The 
purchasers derive no special or peculiar advantages from its 
appHcation. It is expended in the promotion of objects, in 
which the inhabitants of the older States, that contribute 
nothing to this source of revenue, are as much interested as 
the new States, in which it is exclusively raised. Under the 
plan that I am about to propose, the whole amount of the 
purchase money of public land in the North American colonies 
would be expended partly in the execution of works, from 
which the purchasers would derive a direct and immediate 
benefit, and the funds for which are raised in the United States 
by taxation ; and partly in providing for a greatly increased 
emigration. These works, too, or at least the greater portion 
of them, would be performed before the land was sold, and 
the purchasers, therefore, would be in the same position as 
those who, in the United States, purchase land from specu- 
lators who have given an increased value to their land, by 
the improvements which they have effected upon it. Assum- 
ing, therefore, that the measures suggested a\ ill be carried into 


Price of effect, a higher price may be properly demanded for the land 
Land. jj^ j^^ie colonies than that which is at present the upset price 
in the United States ; and the result of this price, coupled 
with the other measures with which it is connected, would 
be, with respect to the colonies, similar to that which has been 
produced with respect to the United States by the general 
system pursued in that country, of which the present higher 
price forms a part. Instead of deterring, it would attract 
purchasers ; and we might confidently rely upon seeing 
American citizens leaving their own country to enjoy the 
greater economical advantages of the British colonies, in 
the same manner as British emigrants are now drawn to the 
United States by the superior attractions which they offer. 

With regard to Upper, and even to Lower Canada, there 
would probably be no objection urged to such a price, and no 
apprehensions entertained as to its effects. But with regard 
to the other provinces, where, just because no sufficient price 
has ever been required, the very low price at present demanded 
is considered an obstacle to settlement, it may possibly be 
feared that the price proposed might be found inapplicable 
to the circumstances in which they are placed ; and this 
might possibly, by reason of the great quantity and cheap- 
ness of wild land in private hands, be the case if such a measure 
were to stand alone. The imposition of any such price — ^it 
might indeed be said of any price — ^presupposes the existence 
of such a state of things as would place it within the power 
of persons of the labouring class to earn and to accumulate 
money. In Nova Scotia, the labouring emigrant has no means 
of employment. He cannot become a purchaser, because he 
cannot earn money by his labour. It is from the land alone 
that he can obtain the means of subsistence ; and to require 
any price for land, under such circumstances, is to place an 
impassable barrier in the way of its acquisition by persons of 
that class, and to drive them into the United States. But if, 
by measures such as have been proposed, the proprietors of 
the wild land are induced and enabled to improve and settle 
their grants ; and if, at the same time, works of the nature 
contemplated are undertaken, labouring emigrants wdll be 
enabled to obtain employment for wages, and out of then* 
savings to purchase land at the proposed price, either from 
the government or from private proprietors. 

It must be remembered, also, that in every colony the 
operation of the proposed price will be slow and gradual ; 
government land will in only a very few instances be pur- 
chased at first ; and it may rather be feared that the tax on 



ild lands will have the effect of lowering too much the general Price of 
price of land, and thus of perpetuating for a longer period Land, 
some of the evils at present experienced, than that the impossi- 
bility of obtaining government land on the present low terms 
will check its acquisition, under any circumstances which 
^^ ould render such acquisition desirable. In every colony the 
selling price of land must, for some time at least, depend far 
more upon private holders than upon the government ; and 
the government, therefore, is freed from the necessity of 
regarding the immediate and temporary results of its deter- 
mination in deciding upon the price which it w ould be ex- 
pedient to adopt. The only end which it has at present to 
secure by a price is, to prevent any more of that undue appro- 
priation which now discourages the hope that much land 
would soon be purchased at any price. 

The proposed price of lOs. per acre, regarded in connexion 
Mith some of the objects it is intended to accomplish, is, in 
fact, much lower than it would be desirable to fix. Even at 
that price, there is great reason to fear that labouring emi- 
grants may be induced to become purchasers before they have 
either the requisite capital or knowledge to qualify them for 
the position they will thus assume. The produce of the fund, 
also, w ill be scarcely adequate to the objects to which it ought 
to be applied, the construction of public w^orks and the pro- 
motion of emigration. But it has been selected as the price 
M hich will most nearly provide for the accomplishment of 
these purposes, and, at the same time, the highest which 
probably it would be in the power of government to obtain, 
having reference to the price fixed upon public land in the 
United States. It is not imposdble that the measures pro- 
posed, if fully carried into effect, might enable government 
to obtain even a higher price ; but it would hardly be safe to 
venture upon the experiment. In proposing this price, how- 
ever, I wish to be regarded as doing so merely as a com- 
promise ; not because I think it best in itself, but because 
I tliink it the best which can be obtained under the circum- 

The disposal of the timber upon the public lands of the Timber. 
Provinces was included within the inquiries that I instituted. 
It is only of late years that any attempt has been made in 
the Canadas to derive a revenue from this property. Origin- 
ally the right to cut timber upon the public lands was a mono- 
poly in the hands of the contractors for the supply of the navy 
with timber ; and they were in the practice of selling licences 
to merchants and lumbermen in the Colonies, by whom, con- 

1352.3 I 


Timbert soquently, the whole legal trade in this article was engi'ossed. 
But as the commerce of the Colonies increased, it was found 
impracticable to prevent unUcensed adventurers from engag- 
ing in the lumber business ; and there appeared every pros- 
pect, in spite of the exertions of the law officers of the Crown 
in Upper Canada, that the unUcensed trade in this article 
would become greater than that conducted under the authority 
of the Government. At length, in the year 1824, it appears 
to have been discovered that it would be a wiser course to 
sanction and regulate the cutting of timber by any person, 
with a view to making it a fixed source of revenue, than to 
persist in useless but harassing attempts to check or punish 
practices which, from the nature of the country, it was impos- 
sible to prevent. With this view, the whole management of 
the timber was placed under the control of an officer, entitled 
the Surveyor-general of Woods and Forests, whose business 
it was to offer for sale, licences to cut timber upon pubHc lands 
at an uniform upset price ; to collect the revenue arising from 
this source ; and to protect the Crown timber from \vaste or 
depredation. In all of the Provinces this office has in effect 
merged in the office of Commissioner of Crown Lands, and the 
timber is therefore under the same general superintendence as 
the public lands of the Colonies. 

I was unable to obtain any accurate information as to the 
probable value of tliis property. From the evidence, however, 
of JVIr. Kerr, and of Mr. Shirreff, it appears, that the quantity 
of timber upon the \^'aste lands of the Province is practically 
unUmited, and that, independently of the consumption of this 
article in England, there exists at present a demand for pine 
timber in the Northern and Western States of the Union 
Avliich may be expected to experience a veiy rapid increase, 
and which can only be supplied from the British North 
American Colonies. 

From the evidence of Mr. Kerr and Mr. Davidson, and 
others, it appears that the revenue which, under a wise 
and careful system of management, might have been derived 
from this property, has been needlessly sacrificed by the 
practices adopted in the disposal of public lands. The value 
of the timber upon an acre of land at the price of Government 
licences is frequently more than ten times greater than the 
amount required to be paid, in order to obtain possession of 
the land upon which the timber is growing. Payment of the 
first instalment of the purchase -money is alone necessary for 
this purpose, and before the second instalment is due, or any 
measures are adopted to enforce payment, the timber may be 


cut down, and the land abandoned. To what extent this has Timber, 
been the case it is difficult to determine ; but there is no 
doubt tliat very large tracts have been purchased for the sake 
of the timber merely ; because the whole purchase-money, if 
paid, has been very far less than the price of timber licences, 
and because the land would remain in the possession of the 
purchaser after the timber had been cut. Besides this cause 
of defalcation in the revenue that might have been derived 
from this source, there has been no proper inspection on the 
spot, so that the quantity of timber cut has been very far 
greater than that for which a licence has been obtained. 

The plan which I have proposed of selling land at a fixed 
uniform price, and requiring the payment of the whole pur- 
chase money at the time of sale, will prevent, to a very con- 
siderable extent, the purchase of land for the mere sake of 
the timber. As the land upon which the most valuable 
timber grows, is generally of an inferior quality of soil, and 
of no value for agricultural purposes, it may be expected that 
but little of it will be purchased, and that the whole timber 
fund will be derived from the sale of licences. It will therefore 
be expedient to establish an efficient system of supervision in 
all the timber districts ; and by comparing the returns made 
by the district inspectors, of the quantity of timber cut, with 
the entries at the custom house of the quantity of timber 
shipped, some security may be obtained against the frauds 
which are now practised in respect of this property. 

It is suggested by Mr. Kerr, that the present price of timber 
licences is too low, having regard not merely to the value of 
timber in the English market, but also to its price in the 
United States. Although disposed to concur in this opinion, 
I do not feel myself warranted in recommending any advance 
in that price at present upon the only information I now 
possess, and especially considering the uncertainty which is 
felt to be attached to the continuance of the present timber 
duties in England. This is one of the matters that must be 
left to the special authority which I shall subsequently recom- 
mend, to determine, from further and more accurate inquiries. 

The present average annual amount produced by the sale 
of timber licences in all the Colonies, appears to be about 
24,000^. ; but there seems no reason to doubt that under an 
improved system of inspection and management, this amount 
might be greatly increased. 

The funds to be produced from all these sources, from the Applica- 
tax upon wild lands, from the sale of the public lands, and tion of 
from the disposal of timber licences, should be specifically 



Applica appropriated to such works as would improve the value of 
tion of land and facilitate the progress of settlement. Of such works 
I may mention the construction of leading lines of road, the 
removal of obstructions in the navigation of rivers, and the 
formation of railroads and canals. In some of these works, 
the whole of the cost will be defrayed out of these funds ; in 
others, it will only be necessary to afford a limited amount of 
assistance, in aid of works in which private capital may be 
invested, though not to a sufficient amount to complete the 
undertaking. Of the class in which only a partial assistance 
would be required, are the railroads and canals, which have 
been projected to connect the different Colonies with each 
other ; or to improve existing or create new means of trans- 
port for passengers and merchandize to the Western States 
of the Union ; and to which the resources of the Colonies are 
as yet unequal. Of these, I may mention the projected canal 
between the Bay of Fundy and the Bay Verte, referred to in 
the evidence of Mr. Mackay ; the canal connecting the River 
Ottawa and Lake Huron, by means of Lake Nipissing and 
French River, referred to in the evidence of Mr. Shirreff ; 
a projected railroad connecting Lake Ontario with Lake 
Huron ; and the railroad from Halifax to Quebec. Nor can 
it be doubted that as population advanced and the resources 
of the Colonies were developed, numerous similar undertakings 
would arise in which a portion of these funds might be advan- 
tageously employed, and in which also, British capital might 
be invested with as much security, and might command as 
large a profit, as that which is now to so great an extent 
invested in similar undertakings in the United States. 

It is not needful that I should attempt to describe in detail 
the consequences which may be anticipated from such an 
aj)plication of the revenues which will be produced by the 
measures I have suggested ; they have been already described 
by implication, in the picture which I have drawn of the state 
of the North American colonies under their present deplor- 
able deficiency in all those matters for which the proposed 
expenditure would provide. It may fairly be assumed, that 
taken in connexion with the other measures, previously and 
subsequently suggested, they will introduce into the colonies 
a state of things as gratifying to every one friendly to British 
institutions, and interested in the welfare of the Colonies, as 
the present condition of these provinces is now the reverse. 
Ernigra- But any plan which may be proposed for the improvement 
tion. Q^ these extensive and important provinces, must of necessity 

be incomplete, unless it provides for a large and constant 



immigration. It is only by means of such immigration that Emigra- 
the execution of the great public works referred to above can *^^"- 
be accomplished, and the vast tracts of appropriated desert 
filled up with settlers. It is indeed an essential condition of 
any scheme of emigration to which the Government of the 
United Kingdom is a party, that measures having a like 
object, if not identical in character, with those above suggested, 
should be adopted ; and that their permanence should be 
secured by a legislative guarantee. But it is no less a neces- 
sary condition of any such measures, that the Government 
should provide for the direction of a constant stream of 
emigration to these colonies. Without the performance of the 
former condition, emigrants must still be exposed to many 
of the evils they have hitherto experienced ; if capitalists, to 
the waste of their pecuniary means in an unavailing contest 
with the difficulties which unwise methods of granting public 
lands have placed in their way ; if labourers, to a precarious 
and limited employment, cheered by no sure prospect of 
ultimate independence. And both will then, as now, be 
driven to avail themselves of the superior advantages offered 
by the neighbouring States of the Union. Without systemat ic 
emigration, too, there can be no security for the profitable 
expenditure of the sums it is proposed to raise in the colonies, 
and no opportunities for the proprietors of the wild land to 
bring their possessions under speedy cultivation. If there is 
no tax upon wild lands, and no improvement of the communi- 
cations of the colonies, emigration would be unprofitable to 
the colony and injurious to the individual ; and if there is 
no emigration, the proposed tax could hardly fail to press 
unfairly. Assuming, however, that the Government and the 
Legislature will not hesitate to apply the appropriate remedy 
to the evUs I have described, and that the colonists will joy- 
fully accept a measure so fraught with advantage to them- 
selves, I proceed to the subject of emigration, a topic more 
immediately affecting the people of the United Kingdom 
than any of those to which I have hitherto referred. But 
before entering upon any detail of the measures which appear 
to me to be requisite in order that the emigration which 
I recommend shall be safe and advantageous to the emigrant, 
it appears needful that I should advert to its past and present 

Upon this subject very great misconceptions appear to 
prevail in England. It seems that all those who have made 
inquiries into the subject of emigration from the United 
Kingdom, have imagined that no interference was required 



Emigra- with respect to that to the North American provinces ; and 
tion- that although some trifling matters of detail might require 

correction, the general character of that emigration was such 
as to forbid any intermeddling. This misconception is un- 
doubtedly attributable, in a great degree, to the circum- 
stance, that all the evidence obtained on the subject, was 
collected in the country from which the emigrants departed, 
instead of that at which they arrived. Had the position of 
the inquirers been reversed, they must have arrived at very 
different conclusions, and have discovered that no emigration 
so imperatively demanded the regulating interposition of the 
Legislature as that for which they specially refused to provide. 
The evidence which has been collected upon this subject 
is almost entirely confined to the case of those who arrive at 
the port of Quebec. The number of those who land in New 
Brunswick and Halifax is so small as to have attracted com- 
paratively little attention. The want, I will not say of any 
adequate provision, but of any provision whatever, for the 
reception and employment of those latter emigrants has, 
indeed, been sensibly felt. But the manner of their arrival, 
and the arrangement for their transport, have been altogether 
overlooked. From the evidence of Dr. Skey and Dr. Morrin, 
it appears that, up to the year 1832, the condition of the 
emigrants, on their arrival in the port of Quebec, was miser- 
able in the extreme ; that numbers perished during the 
passage ; that those who landed were the victims of con- 
tagious diseases, occasioned by filth and privation during 
their voyage ; that many were landed in a state of utter 
destitution, without even the means of shelter ; and that 
they introduced pestilence into the city, and formed a heavy 
burthen upon the charity of the inhabitants. It is stated, 
that on one occasion upwards of 400 patients with contagious 
diseases were admitted into the hospital at one time. Those, 
too, who escaped these evils were ignorant of the true circum- 
stances of the country ; without the means of ascertaining 
where, and in what manner, they could find employment, and 
too frequently, if employed during the summer, left without 
any means of subsistence during the winter. In fact the 
emigration of that period was fraught with evil to the emigrant 
Ordered and to the colony, and the ultimate advantage to either was 
House of piirchased at the cost of great and needless suffering. It 
Commons appears, however, from the Report of the chief agent for emi- 
to be grants in the United Kingdom, an officer recently appointed 
14^Mav ^^ *^^ Colonial department, that at the time when these evils 
1838. were at their height, the Government Commission, formed in 



1831, for the purpose of inquiring into the subject of emigra- Emigra. 
tion, were led by the evidence brought before them to imagine *^^"- 
that the vast numbers proceeding to the North American 
Colonies, and especially to the Province of Lower Canada, 

■had emigrated and established themselves in the colonies with- 
out any serious or lasting inconvenience. The evidence laid 
before them appeared to warrant such a conclusion ; and the 
practical inference which this Commission drew from its 
inquiries appears to have been, that the system throve too 
well spontaneously to require, or even admit of, their inter- 
ference. Unfortunately, however, the conclusions of this 
Commission did not rest at the point of non-interference. 
They conceived that they should be only fulfilling the object 
of their appointment, by diffusing among all those classes, 
who might be disposed to emigrate, correct information as to 
the rate of wages and the prices of provisions in the colonies ; 
and they accordingly circulated as widely as possible, lists of 
wages and prices, and such other statements as might place 
the advantages of emigration in the most striking point of 
view. The result of these proceedings on their part was, that 
the emigration to all the North American Colonies, which 
had been 58,067 in 1831, amounted, in 1832, to 66,339. In 
the latter year, however, in addition to the ordinary diseases 
to which emigrants were exposed, the cholera made its appear- 
ance in the two Canadas. Vast numbers of the emigrants 
perished from this disease, in the most miserable manner, the 
inhabitants of the towns, under the belief that the disease 
was contagious, refusing to admit any strangers into their 
houses ; and those who were attacked by it being literally 
left to perish in the streets. In the year 1832 a quarantine 
station was established at Grosse Isle, an island about 30 
miles below Quebec, which, except in the two years of cholera, 
1832 and 1834, has accomplished the object of saving the city 
from the contagious diseases by which it was formerly visited 
every year. The amended Passengers Act also, and the appoint- 
ment of agents at many of the ports of the United Kingdom 
from which the largest numbers of emigrants depart, have 
effected some improvements in the condition of the emigrants 
on board many of the vessels. It appears, however, from 
the evidence of Mr. Jessopp and Dr. Poole, that the provisions 
of that Act are evaded in very numerous instances ; and that 
cases still occur, in which from 70 to 80 passengers on board 
of a single vessel are attacked by contagious fevers. It appears, 
too, from the evidence of Mr. Forsyth, that the want of any 
effectual provision for the reception of emigrants, and for 


Emigra- forwarding them to those places where they would find 
tion. immediate and permanent employment, have been remedied 

in no appreciable degree by the appointment of emigrant 
agents in the colonies. 

It is not necessary that I should attempt to prove, that it 
is the duty of Government to regulate the emigration that it 
continues to encourage, and to establish an efficient system of 
control over emigrant vessels ; because this is admitted in 
principle at least, by the appointment of an agent-general for 
emigrants, and of subordinate agents at some of the ports of 
embarkation. But the measures adopted have been partial 
and incomplete ; and though in some cases they have pre- 
vented, in many they have permitted the continuance of all 
the evils against which they were intended to guard. If looked 
at by an individual residing in England, it is probable that 
they may appear adequate and effectual, because in that 
country attention is directed exculsively to the evils they 
prevent. In the colonies their deficiency is apparent, since 
there, attention is naturally fixed upon those evils which they 
leave untouched. The evidence given upon this subject by 
gentlemen whose position necessarily makes them acquainted 
with the real character of emigration at the present time, and 
who can have no motive but the desire of remedying the evils 
they describe, leaves no doubt that this admitted duty of 
Government is still to a considerable extent unperformed, and 
suggests reasons for doubting whether the manner in which 
its performance has been attempted, is not faulty in principle 
as well as insufficient in detail. 

There is not indeed any obvious reason why the Govern- 
ment should take less effectual measures to regulate emigra- 
tion to the American than to the Australian Colonies. There 
may be a difference in the character and circumstances of 
emigration to the two regions, but none so great as to free 
the former from all interference, while the latter is in several 
cases, to a great extent, and in one, entirely, regulated by 

The great amount of voluntary emigration to the North 
American Colonies, which has been assigned as a reason for 
the non-interference of Government, even if it be admitted 
as an argument against the offer of a free passage to any class, 
lest this offer should operate practically to deter many who 
emigrate upon their own resources, forms at the same time 
one of the most powerful arguments for the adoption of an 
effectual system of control over this voluntary emigration. 
Of the tens of thousands who emigrated every year, it must 


have been known that the vast majority were ignorant of the Emigra- 
existence of any law to which they could appeal for protection *'®'^- 
against extortion or ill treatment. All of them were proceed- 
ing to a place where employment could be furnished to but 
a very small portion ; and to these only for a limited period. 
The place of ultimate destination of nearly all the emigrants, 
was several hundred miles from the port of debarkation ; and 
there existed no means of forwarding them to the spot where 
their labour would be in demand, upon the adequacy or 
permanency of which it would be safe for the Government 
to rely. Private societies, indeed, existed at Quebec and 
Montreal, to whom was entrusted the expenditure of some 
pubhc funds for the reHef of the sick and the destitute ; but 
these funds were insufficient in amount, and the societies 
entrusted with their distribution were under no legal control. 
So incomplete and defective were the arrangements, that in 
the year 1834, when from the prevalence of the cholera the 
necessities of the emigrants were greatest, the societies in 
question had absolutely no public money at their disposal, 
on account of the expiration of the Provincial Act under 
which the fund had, till then, been raised. If, however, the 
Imperial Government refused to take upon itself the entire 
direction of emigration, in the fear that they might lessen its 
amount, they were the more bound to take such measures as 
were obviously within their power to protect or to assist the 

The measures which Government have adopted are how- 
ever deplorably defective. They have left untouched some 
of the chief evils of emigration, and have very incompletely 
remedied those even against which they were especially 
directed. Although the safeguards for the emigrant during 
the passage are increased, and in many places enforced, yet 
there is still no check of any sort whatever over a large pro- 
portion of the emigrant vessels. The provisions for the recep- 
tion of the emigrants at Quebec, so far as the Government is 
concerned, are of the most inefficient and unsatisfactory 
character ; and the poorer class would have to find their way 
as they best might to the Upper Province, or to the United 
States, were it not for the operation of societies, whose main 
object is not the advantage of the emigrants, but to free the 
cities of Quebec and Montreal from the intolerable nuisance of 
a crowd of unemployed, miserable, and too often diseased 
persons. The government agent at Quebec has no power ; 
he has not even any rules for his guidance ; and no monies 
are placed at his disposal. At Montreal there has not been 


Emigra- any agent for the two last years. The whole extent therefore 
^°°' of the interference of the Government, has been to estabUsh 

in England agents to superintend the enforcement of the 
provisions of the Passengers Act in respect of the emigrants 
from some ports, and to maintain an agent in the Province of 
Lower Canada, to observe rather than to regulate, the emigra- 
tion into that province. 

It may be doubted too, whether the source from which 
alone all the funds appHcable to the reHef of emigrants in 
Lower Canada are derived, is in reality one which ought to 
have been selected for that purpose. To tax the whole body 
of emigrants for the purpose of providing a remedy for evils 
which no adequate means have been adopted to prevent, and 
thus to compel the most prudent of that class to bear the 
burden of imprudence or negligence in others, is surely a 
measure of very doubtful justice. The practice has, I am 
aware, been defended by reference to the example of the 
United States, in some of the chief cities of which a similar 
tax is imposed. But this is a case wliich bears no analogy to 
the present. The United States have and can have no control 
over the arrangements for the transport of emigrants from 
the United Kingdom. The tax which they have imposed is 
therefore the only measure within their power, in order to 
prevent the whole burden of maintaining diseased or infirm 
emigrants from being cast upon them. They also have taken 
no part in encouraging emigration. If emigrants from the 
United Kingdom imagine that there are any pecuHar advan- 
tages to be derived from emigration to the States, they 
cannot reasonably object to the payment of the small sum 
levied upon them for the protection of the community of 
wliich they are about to become members. With regard to 
the British Government, and the British North American 
Colonies, the case is different. The former have stimulated 
emigration, on the avowed ground that it is beneficial to the 
United Kingdom ; and, except in the case of the Legislative 
Assembly of Lower Canada, the latter have welcomed it, on 
account of the capital and labour thus introduced among 
them. In this case too, the Government of Great Britain 
possesses the means of establishing an efficient control ; and 
it therefore not merely compels emigrants to provide almost 
alone against the inconveniences incident to the attainment 
of a great national object, but to pay for the inadequacy of 
the measures which Government has adopted, or the remiss- 
ness of the officers it has appointed. I do not mean to assert, 
that the imposition of this tax has been attended by no 



advantages to the emigrants ; but these advantages have been Emigra* 
confined to a few, and might have been wdth more certainty *^°"' 
and with more justice secured by other means. 

There has not indeed been any greater degree of uniformity 
in the proceedings of Government in reference to this than 
to the other subjects comprised in my inquiry. In Lower 
Canada there has been a tax imposed upon all emigrants 
from the United Kingdom arriving at the port of Quebec. 
In Upper Canada a sum not exceeding 5,000?. in the whole, 
out of the casual and territorial revenues, has been appro- 
priated by Government to purposes connected with immigra- 
tion. The funds received in Lower Canada are placed under 
the control of private societies, or devoted to objects only 
indirectly under the superintendence of the Government. 
They are applied too in such a manner as to lead to the pre- 
sumption, that the only object of the legislature in imposing 
the tax upon emigrants, was to rid the province of them as 
speedily and as completely as possible. In Upper Canada the 
funds are placed at the disposal of an officer of the Govern- 
ment, and are so applied as to afford to emigrants an induce- 
ment to remain in the province. There has been no sub- 
ordination of offices, and even no proper connexion between 
the agent in Lower and the agents in Upper Canada. It has 
consequently been impossible that any connected and uniform 
measures should be adopted. The result of this want of 
regularity or method, in conjunction with the circumstances 
of the colonies produced by the manner in which the public 
lands have been disposed of, has been that, of the emigrants 
arriving at Quebec, three-fifths according to Mr. Forsyth, 
and about half according to Mr. Hawke, have, either imme- 
diately, or after a very short period, proceeded to the United 

I cannot doubt but that the facts disclosed in the evidence 
appended to this report, and referred to above, will induce 
Her Majesty's Government to adopt some more effectual 
means than have hitherto been pursued, to regulate the 
voluntary emigration to these Colonies. But their efforts 
ought not, I conceive, to end there. Numbers who would 
form most valuable labourers in the colonies are prevented 
from emigrating, because they have not even the small sum 
at present requisite to defray the cost of their passage. Num- 
bers too, it cannot be doubted, are deterred by what they 
have learned of the sufferings of those who have emigrated. 
If any proof was required of the truth of the latter opinion, it 
is to be found in the fact, that the emigration to the Canadas, 


Emigra. which in the year 1832 amounted to 52,000, and which had 
^^^"* been regularly increasing up to that period, fell off to 21,000 

in 1833, on account of the miseries endured by the emigrants 
of the former year. Nor has it ever recovered from this check. 
In only one subsequent year has the emigration to Quebec 
exceeded 30,000, or about three-fifths of its former amount. 
At the same time there has been no general disinchnation 
evinced by the people of the United Eangdom to emigrate 
either to the United States or to other British colonies. So 
far as appears, a difficulty has been rather experienced in 
selecting out of the numerous candidates for emigration at 
the public expense, not such as in the opinion of the agents 
of Government were fit objects of the Government bounty, 
but such as without injustice to the rejected apphcants, might 
be chosen as best suited to the peculiar circumstances of the 
colonies to which they were sent. From all I have been able 
to learn as to the proceedings of the South Austrahan Land 
and Emigration Commissioners, as well as of the cliief agent 
for emigrants in England, the number of those who were 
wiUing to emigrate very far exceeded that for which the 
means at their disposal could enable them to provide. 

In the North American colonies, however, under an improved 
system, such as I have above suggested, hundreds of thousands 
might find the means of employment and subsistence, most 
advantageously for the colonies and for themselves. It is 
assuredly not too much to say, that these provinces would 
support a merely agricultural population at least tenfold 
greater than that by which they are now inhabited ; and 
this agricultural population w ould require, and would furnish 
employment, for a large amount of mechanics and artisans. 
Those whom the inevitable fluctuations of employment in 
a country Hke Great Britain, no less than those whom the 
improved methods of agriculture demanded by the circum- 
stances of Ireland, would deprive of their accustomed means 
of subsistence, if enabled to emigrate to these provinces, not 
only would themselves benefit by the change, but would 
develop the resources and augment the wealth of the colonies 
to an incalculable degree. The unprecedented prosperity of 
the New States of the Union, which have witliin a few years 
sprung up in the wilderness, is owing entirely to the extent of 
the emigration which has been directed to them, no small 
portion of which has consisted of emigrants from the United 
Kingdom. The British Government has it in its power to 
direct to these colonies an emigration yet more extensive, and 
to provide for its permanent estabhshment there ; and this 



vithout any cost to the United Kingdom. The funds which, Emigra- 
under the system I have recommended, would be furnished *ioii- 
by the colonies themselves, could not be expended in any 
manner so advantageous to the countries from which they 
are derived, as in providing for this emigration ; and one 
gi-eat advantage to be anticipated from the execution of the 
public works, to which a portion of these funds is destined, 
is that such works would remove the principal difficulties now 
experienced by emigrants in obtaining employment or in 
establishing themselves as settlers. 

I would, therefore, recommend, that a specified portion of 
the produce of the wild-land tax, and of the future sales of 
land and timber, should be applied in providing for emigra- 
tion ; a part in furnishing free passage to emigrants of the 
most desirable age, as far as maj^ be of both sexes in equal 
numbers ; and a part in defraying any expenses occasioned 
by the superintendence of the emigration of those to whom, 
in conformity with this rule, or from other circumstances, 
a free passage cannot be offered. 

The whole emigration from the United Kingdom should be 
so far placed under the superintendence of Government, that 
emigrants conveyed at the public expense should necessarily 
proceed in vessels chartered and regulated by the Govern- 
ment, and that all persons willing to pay for their own passage, 
should be entitled to proceed in vessels so chartered and 
regulated, at a cost for the passage not exceeding the charge 
in private vessels. 

Proper means of shelter and of transport should be pro- 
vided at the different ports in the colonies to which emigrants 
proceed ; and they should be forwarded to the place where 
they can obtain employment, under the direction of respon- 
sible agents, acting under a central authority. 

Those who could not at once obtain employment as farm 
labourers or mechanics, should be employed upon Govern- 
ment works, at the usual price of labour upon such works, 
Avhich, as it is generally rather lower, having regard to the 
nature of the employment, than can be obtained in other 
occupations, will have no tendency to withdraw labour from 
any more useful direction. 

I cannot recommend that any measures should be adopted 
to settle these emigrants upon land of their own. The previous 
habits of English labourers are not such as to fit them for the 
severe and painful labours to which they would thus be 
exposed, or to give them the forethought and prudence which 
such a position especially requires. Habituated to provide 


Emigra- for the subsistence of the week by the labour of the Aveek, 
tion. they are too often found to shrink from a toil cheered by no 
prospect of an immediate return ; and having exhausted all 
the means furnished for their temporary support, to leave the 
land upon which they were placed, in order to obtain sub- 
sistence as labourers for hire. The exceptions to this result 
are few and unimportant. They rather confirm than invali- 
date the rule, and have been procured at a cost utterly dis- 
proportionate to the object attained. It is rather to be feared, 
that in spite of any measures that can prudently be adopted, 
the majority of the labouring emigrants will be tempted, 
by the desire of becoming independent landholders, to settle 
themselves upon farms of their own at too early a period 
for their own comfort and prosperity. It cannot, however, 
be the duty of Government to precipitate this period, nor in 
any way to interfere with the natural and profitable order 
of things — ^that the possession of capital, and an acquain- 
tance with the modes of husbandry practised in the colonies, 
should precede settlement. 

It would be impossible at the present moment to decide 
upon the amount of emigration for which it would be prudent 
to provide. This can only be ascertained by inquiries made 
upon the spot, under the direction of an authority created 
for the purpose. It is most essential, however, that it should 
not be too limited. The works proposed to be carried on will 
afford abundant means of employment for an amount of 
emigration very far beyond the present apparent demand for 
labour in the colonies ; and by facilitating settlement, and 
increasing the opportunities for a profitable investment of 
capital, wiU create numerous sources of employment which 
do not now exist. A copious stream of emigration will supply 
the means for its own maintenance, but any deficiency in this 
respect cannot fail to be injurious ; and must either lead to 
the withdrawal of labour from agricultural pursuits, to the 
construction of public works, or must leave these latter 
without the necessary means for their completion. The 
details of this subject may, however, safely be trusted to the 
authorities by whom the general plan is to be carried out. 
Loan. The measures recommended above, although I believe quite 

adequate to the ultimate and complete cure of the evils 
I have described, must, however, be necessarily slow in their 
operation ; while the evils against which they are directed 
stand in need of an early remedy. A considerable immediate 
outlay is required for the execution of the greater and lesser 
works of communication through all parts of the colonies, in 



au effectual and permanent manner, after which they may be Loan, 
kept in repair at a comparatively trifling expense. A small 
portion of the funds raised would suffice to maintain roads 
Avhen once made ; but the whole fund raised in the colony for 
several years would be required for the original construction 
of roads, and the produce of the future sales of wild lands 
and timber which would be applicable to the same purpose, 
will for some time be probably very trifling. As however, 
until these roads are made, it will be well nigh impossible that 
the country should be settled, the proprietors of the wild land 
would be compelled to pay the tax for many years before 
they could reap any great advantage from its application. 
The emigration, also, which I have recommended, ought to 
be comparatively greater in the first instance than it would 
require to be at any future period ; and would constitute, 
therefore, an additional demand upon this inadequate fund. 
But the tax, and the produce of land and timber sales, though 
insufficient as capital, would furnish an available security as 
interest ; and if the permanence of the system were guaranteed 
by an Imperial enactment, there would, I believe be no 
difficulty in raising, in the English money-market, a loan to 
any required amount, to be employed for the purposes to 
which it is intended that these funds should be devoted. The 
yearly produce of the tax would be, for all the colonies, speak- 
ing in round numbers, and allowing for all possible costs of 
collection, about 150,000?. ; and though it may be expected 
that a very considerable portion of the tax will be paid in 
land, yet, as such land would be taken at less than half of the 
proposed future price of wild land, this would greatly increase 
the ultimate value of the security. The public lands, too, in 
the different colonies, making a similar allowance for the 
cost of management, would produce eventually upwards of 
7,500,000?. And, without includuig the produce of timber 
licences, which would, nevertheless, amount to a considerable 
sum, the two together would form a very ample security for 
any advance which might be required. I should, therefore, 
further propose, that loans should be raised upon the security 
of these two funds, and be employed partly in all such public 
works as may be required, and partly in promoting the emigra- 
tion of labourers. It will be seen at once that the proposed 
security would be the more certain exactly in proportion to 
the funds raised upon it, and devoted to purposes directly 
tending to augment the demand for the land and timber, by 
the sale of which the loans would ultimately be paid off, and 
interest provided in the meanwhile. The amount of the 


Loan. money which should be raised in this manner cannot be 
determined beforehand. It must depend upon circumstances, 
and must be left to the judgment of those to whom the execu- 
tion of the plan is to be entrusted. By anticipating, in this 
manner, the revenue to be created by the system, a stimulus 
would be at once given to the prosperity of the colonies, 
of which it is impossible to exaggerate the beneficial results. 
Com- In order that the plan thus suggested may be carried out 

mission, ^yith uniformity and effect, it will be necessary that some 
special authority should be created, charged with the execu- 
tion of the whole measure, and rendered thoroughly respon- 
sible to Parliament. It is obvious, indeed, that no sufficient 
machinery for this purpose exists at present, either in the 
Colonies or in the United Kingdom. To fulfil adequately the 
duties thus imposed would occupy the whole time, and demand 
the undivided attention, of those to whom the task is con- 
fided. The general principles of the measure must be embodied 
in an Act of Parliament ; but there will necessarily be many 
details for which no enactment could provide by anticipation, 
and which, in fact, can only be appropriately arranged as 
the practical working of the measure shows their necessity. 
I should suggest, therefore, that a central commission should 
be appointed in the United Kingdom, with subordinate general 
and assistant commissioners in the Colonies. To these should 
be entrusted the whole execution of the plan ; and the central 
commission in England should have power to frame such 
rules, orders, and regulations, having the force of law, as 
would be necessary to give effect to the principles laid down 
in the Act of Parliament. The duty of the English Com- 
mission would be to regulate the disposal of the public lands 
and timber, to regulate the imposition and application of the 
proposed tax, to provide for the selection and transport of 
emigrants, and to raise by way of loan the monies required 
for all these purposes. The Colonial Commission would see 
that the regulations of the English Board were carried into 
effect ; would superintend the execution of all public works ; 
would receive and forward emigrants ; would provide employ- 
ment for such as were not employed by the inhabitants of the 
colonies, and would exercise a supervision and guardianship 
over them for a specified period. It would be necessary that 
in each colony there should be a commissioner subordinate 
to the general Board ; and that agents should be appointed, 
for districts of convenient dimensions, charged with the 
actual sale of land, with the collection of the tax, with the 
perfecting and registry of titles, and with all matters con- 


nected with the business of the general Board, which related Com- 
to the superintendance of the public works. mission. 

As a further guarantee for the responsibility of the pro- 
posed commissions, frequent reports of all the correspondence 
between the English and Colonial Boards, and frequent reports 
of their proceedings, should be laid before both Houses of 
Parliament, and before the Legislature of the Colonies. With- 
out provisions for entire publicity in the proceedings of these 
commissioners, I should despair of any very beneficial results 
from their appointment. The evils which I have had to 
describe could not have so long existed without any adequate 
attempt to remedy them, if the administration under which 
they have taken place had not been conducted in secrecy. 

Without such a special authority, it would be idle to expect 
that any measure, however admirable in principle or perfect 
in detail, can be satisfactory in practice. The experience of 
all the Colonies, up to the present moment, has sufficiently 
shown, that no care in framing general regulations can be 
effectual without some more constant and peculiar control 
than it has hitherto been practicable to exercise. These rules 
have been uniformly evaded or neglected ; and as it has 
frequently happened that those only knew their real character, 
who were charged with their execution, it was well nigh impos- 
sible that the fact of their violation should be made known 
to the Imperial functionaries by whom they were framed. 
Often, too, it has been the case, that, when their existence 
and nature were public, those who were made acquainted 
with their violation profited by the transaction in which they 
were violated ; and if others also knew of the occurrence, 
they had no immediate interest in its exposure, or could not 
obtain attention from the distant authority to whom refer- 
ence must be made, occupied as it was with far weightier 
matters than what it might deem a solitary infraction of rules 
supposed to be generally obeyed. It is in this way only that 
we can account for the fact, that the systematic neglect of 
the regulations, successively framed for the disposal of the 
public lands by various Secretaries of State, should have 
remained unknown ; and that it should have been believed, 
even up to the time when the instructions of Lord Glenelg 
were issued in 1837, that the previous instructions of Lord 
Goderich were observed, when in fact there was not a single 
colony in which they obtained any degree of observance. 
That the Secretary of State for the Colonies should still have 
the supreme control of this, as of other matters of adminis- 
tration connected with the colonies, appears undoubtedly 

1352.3 K 


Com- advisable ; and this will be secured by a provision, that all 
mission, regulations framed by the Board of Commissioners should 
receive his sanction ; but the enforcement of these regulations, 
if it is intended that they should be enforced, ought to be 
entrusted to some special and peculiar authority, and subjected 
in every possible way to the public inspection. I suppose that 
the costs of the proposed commission would be defrayed by 
the revenue which this system of colonization would call into 

In concluding this Report, I have only to repeat, that the 
Imperial Government has but the alternative of adopting the 
measures which I have recommended, or others similar in 
their character and tendency, or of abandoning absolutely all 
control over the public lands, and discouraging, instead of 
encouraging, emigration to the colonies. In the event of the 
former course being pursued, we may, I think, confidently 
rely upon seeing these colonies enter upon an unparalleled 
career of prosperity, and upon cementing indissolubly the ties 
which now connect them with the United Kingdom. In the 
latter, there appears no other prospect than that of continued 
stagnation, languor, and consequent discontent. 

I have the honour to be. 
My Lord, 
Your Excellency's most obedient, humble Servant, 

Charles Buller, 
Commissioner of Crown Lands and Emigration. 
2 November 1838. 


Ordered to be printed March 27, 1839# 


1. — REPORTS of Commissioners of Inquiry into the Municipal 
Institutions of Lower Canada. 

The Commission-. 

Copy of Letter of Insteijotions from Chief Commissioner. 
Preliminary Report of Assistant Commissioners. 
General Report of Assistant Commissioners. 

*2.— REPORT from the Bishop of Montreal on the state of the Church 
within his Diocese. 

[The sections marked with an asterisk have not been reprinted.] 





Province of Lower) t^„^„. , 
Canada. P^^^ham. 

Victoria, by the grace of God of the United Kingdom of 
Great Britain and Ireland Queen, Defender of the 
Faith :— 

To Charles Butler, greeting. 

Whereas it is highly expedient and desirable that the 
counties, cities, towns, parishes and townships in Our province 
of Lower Canada should respectively enjoy as extensive 
a control as may be consistent with their own improvement, 
and with the general welfare of Our said province, over all 
matters and things of a local nature, to the end that inter- 
course may be facilitated, industry promoted, crime repressed, 
education appreciated, and true liberty understood and 
advanced : 

Know ye, therefore, that We, reposing great trust in your 



zeal, ability and discretion, have nominated, constituted 
and appointed, and by these presents do nominate, constitute 
and appoint you, the said Charles BuUer, to proceed with the 
utmost despatch to inquire into the safest and most efficient 
means of endowing the said counties, cities, towns, parishes 
and townships with such powers and privileges as to you may 
seem meet for the effecting of the important ends aforesaid ; 
and Our further will and pleasure is, that you, after due 
examination of the premises, do and shall from time to time 
report to Us, under your hand and seal, what you shall find 
touching or concerning the premises upon such inquiry as 
aforesaid ; and also that you shall, from time to time, suggest 
such alterations or modifications of the laws and regulations 
at present in force as may appear likely to promote the 
objects aforesaid. We do by these presents give and grant 
to you full power and authority to call before you such and 
so many of the grand voyers, surveyors of highways and 
justices of the peace in Our said province of Lower Canada, 
and such other officers of the Crown and other persons as you 
shall judge necessary, and by whom you may be the better 
informed of the truth in the premises, and to inquire of the 
premises and every part thereof by all other lawful ways and 
means whatsoever ; and We do also give and grant to you 
full power and authority to cause all and singular the officers 
aforesaid in Our said province of Lower Canada, or any other 
person or persons having in their custody any records, orders, 
regulations, books, papers or other writings relating to the 
premises, or in any way connected therewith, to bring and 
produce the same before you. And for your assistance in the 
due execution of this Our Commission, We do hereby authorize 
you to nominate and appoint such person or persons as you 
shall think fit, to be Assistant Commissioner or Assistant 
Commissioners, for the purposes aforesaid, or any of them, 
and to delegate to him or them such and so many of the 
powers hereinbefore vested in you as may seem expedient ; 
and Our will is, and We do hereby direct and ordain that the 
person or persons so nominated by you shall possess and 
exercise any powers and authorities so as aforesaid delegated 
to him or them, in as full and ample a manner as the same 
are possessed and may be exercised by you under the 
authority of these presents ; and We do hereby further 
authorize and empower you, at your discretion, to appoint 
such person as Secretary to this our Commission as you shall 
see proper."^ 

* No Secretary was appointed to the Commission. 



In testimony whereof We have caused these Our letters 
to be made patent and the great seal of Our said province of 
LoAver Canada to be affixed thereto. 

Witness Our right trusty and right well-beloved John 
George Earl of Durham, Viscount Lambton, &c. &c., 
Knight Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Military 
Order of the Bath, one of Our Most Honourable Privy 
Council, and Governor-general, Vice-admiral and 
Captain-general of all Our provinces within and 
adjacent to the continent of North America, &c. 
&c. &c. 

At Our Castle of St. Lewis, in Our city of Quebec, 
in Our said province of Lower Canada, the 23d 
day oi August in the year of Our Lord 1838, and 
in the second year of Our reign. 

(signed) D. Daly, Secretary, 

Castle of St. Lewis, Quebec, 25 August 1838. 


General Commission of Inquiry into Municipal Institutions. 

Chief Commissioner : — 

The Honourable Charles Buller. 

Assistant Commissioners :-»- 

William Kennedy and Adam Thom, Esquires. 


(Copy of a LETTER of INSTRUCTIONS addressed by 
the Honourable Charles Buller, M.P., Chief Com- 
missioner of Municipal Inquiry to the Assistant 

Castle of St. Lewis, Quebec, 25 August 1838. 

Before entering on the duties which you have undertaken 
in consenting to act as Assistant Commissioners in the inquiry 
respecting the municipal institutions of this province, it is 
necessary that I should point out the objects of that inquiry 
more specifically than they are to be found in the commission 


You cannot, however, have failed to observe from the whole 
tenor of that commission, that the word ' Municipal ' has been 
used in its largest sense ; that it has not been conjoined with 
any other that would limit your inquiries to incorporated 
towns ; and that within the scope of your investigation will 
be included every matter that may be properly submitted to 
local or municipal management. The chief of these have been 
pointed out in the commission, which mentions increased 
facilities of internal communication, the encouragement of 
industry, and the repression of crime, as primary objects of 
attention. It is indeed impossible to enumerate exactly the 
various branches of inquiry, or define them very precisely. 
The class includes all those concerns of the people which it is 
advisable to exclude from the business of the central executive 
government, and leave to be managed by the separate local 
divisions which have an interest in them. The limits of this 
class have been more or less wide in different countries. There 
would be no objection to your extending your inquiries to all 
the matters comprehended in the widest classification, but 
custom and general opinion have sufficiently marked out the 
most important of those which come within the province of 
municipal administration. 

Having determined the objects of municipal government, 
you will proceed to ascertain how they have been provided 
for in this country. You will inquire and report about the 
provision which has been made for the formation and main- 
tenance of those internal communications, which, as they 
concern only local divisions, can never be objects of interest 
to a central government. The system by which the roads 
and bridges of the, province have been managed will be one 
of the first and most important subjects of investigation. 
The paving, draining and lighting of towns will present 
kindred subjects of inquiry. You will also direct your atten- 
tion to the means provided for the erection and maintenance 
of public buildings, both in town and country. The manage- 
ment of the entire police of the province will come under 
your consideration. You will inform me of the system which 
has been established for the purpose of protecting the persons 
and property of the inhabitants, both of the towns and rural 
districts, and of the degree of efficiency with which it has 
been administered. It will not be your business to inquire 
into the various particular charities, hospitals and medical 
institutions which have been founded throughout the pro- 
vince by the benevolence of individuals, and governed accord- 
ing to the regulations prescribed by their founders ; but the 



general provision for the poor is an important part of local 
arrangements. You will therefore investigate the system 
which has been established for the general relief of destitution 
and the suppression of mendicancy and vagrancy. There 
are other matters which no wise government would leave 
entirely to mere local arrangement, but in the management 
of which it has been found that the central government 
may advantageously avail itself of a well-organized municipal 
machinery : such are the inferior judicatures, the subordinate 
magistracy, and the institutions of education. I do not 
desire from you a complete view of the judicial establishments 
of the province, because the administration of justice is a 
subject the importance of which will demand and receive 
from his Excellency a separate investigation ; but you will 
inquire into the establishments which exist unconnected with 
the higher courts of civil and criminal jurisdiction, for the 
settlement of petty disputes, the repression of minor offences, 
and the enforcement of police regulations. You will especially 
direct your attention to all those judicial institutions which 
are in any degree of a popular nature, and in which the inhabi- 
tants of the various provincial subdivisions have a voice in 
the selection of the local judges. 

The choice of a local magistracy has in some countries been 
wholly, or partly, left to the people of the locality. You will 
inform me how far the inhabitants of this province have been 
intrusted with any share of this power, either by direct selec- 
tion or recommendation of their magistrates, or by the 
attribution of magisterial functions to the popularly-elected 
officers of a town or district — ^applying the latter word accord- 
ing to general usage. 

In the same way, you will inquire how far the inhabitants 
of the local divisions of the province have had a voice in the 
management of local schools or the appointment of school- 
masters, and how far the support of the institutions of educa- 
tion has been made to depend upon local imposts. 

After these investigations, our information on this head 
as to the present establishments of the province will require 
to be completed by your turning your researches from the 
mode in which municipal purposes have been provided for, 
to the municipal machinery which may happen to exist. 
The example of various nations supplies instances of the 
existence of a very complete machinery for local government 
available for all municipal purposes, but actually applied to 
none, or to very few, furnished with very inadequate powers, 
or intrusted with very incomplete duties. Thus, in the 


parishes of England a machinery for local self-government 
exists, which might be rendered applicable to every description 
of municipal business, but which is, in fact, restricted to the 
management of a very small portion. In Upper Canada 
there appears to exist a systematic, comprehensive and 
popular organization of the townships. The people of these 
districts are intrusted with the freest election of municipal 
officers, but the officers thus chosen seem to be intrusted with 
hardly any duties, and certainly are invested with hardly 
any of the powers, which are necessary for a really efficient 
municipal government. The inhabitants of these townships 
appear to have a very popular choice of nearly useless func- 
tionaries ; and a very perfect municipal machinery exists 
without being rendered available for the most important 
municipal purposes. You will inquire, therefore, whether 
anything of a similar nature exists in this province ; whether, 
for any purposes, the inhabitants of small local districts are 
in the habit of managing any portion of their own affairs, or 
meeting to discuss their local concerns, or selecting their local 
officers. You will describe the municipal machinery which 
may happen to exist for any purpose, and any existing institu- 
tions for any species of local self-government, which may be 
applied to the higher kinds of municipal duties. 

To leave to local management whatever can be safely 
intrusted to it, and in such local management to give a voice 
to as large a number of the people as can use the suffrage 
for the common advantage, will be your great object ; in the 
prosecution of which, you will conduct your inquiries in the 
way which you may deem best calculated to enable you 
to draw just conclusions and to furnish an early report. 

I have, &c. 

William Kennedy, ) tj, • (signed) Charles Buller. 

AdamThom, psquires. 


To the Honourable Charles Buller, Chief Commissioner of 
Inquiry into Municipal Institutions. 

Municipal Commission Office, Quebec, 
Sir, 27 October 1838. 

In conformity with your letter of instructions, as chief of 
the commission appointed to inquire into the municipal 


institutions of the province of Lower Canada, we proceeded to 
lay down a plan for conducting the inquiry on a comprehensive 
basis, and, in the way that promised to enable us most readily 
to meet the exigencies of a community lying under a suspen- 
sion of constitutional rights. With a view to the economy 
of time, as well as to the obtaining of accurate information, 
we came to the conclusion, that we should discharge the duties 
of the commission most satisfactorily by directing our investi- 
gation, in the first instance, to the cities of Quebec and Mon- 
treal. Those cities had been incorporated for a term of three 
years by Acts of the provincial legislature. If the experiment 
of incorporation had been successful, their inhabitants would, 
of course, feel anxious for the renewal of the statutes which 
expired in 1836 ; if it had been unsuccessful, it was necessary 
to ascertain the cause of failure, in order to guard against its 
recurrence in future legislation. It was fair to assume, that 
the lapse of their municipal government would be productive 
of injury and inconvenience in growing commercial towns like 
Quebec and Montreal ; we were, therefore, impressed with 
the conviction that we should best consult the public interest 
and wishes, by making the municipal regulations of these towns 
the subject of a separate report, to be submitted as early as 
possible to his Excellency, Her Majesty's High Commissioner, 
as material for legislative enactment. Thus we had reason 
to hope that, in the course of a few months, the benefit of 
improved and extended municipal institutions might have 
been conferred upon the principal seats of provincial intelli- 
gence and wealth, in which the disorder and discomfort 
occasioned by the absence of these institutions is strikingly 

Another consideration weighed with us in giving precedence 
to Quebec and Montreal, the desire of obtaining the advantage 
of the auxiliary information to be derived from this branch 
of the inquiry before directing our investigation to the rural 
districts, where habits of self-government are almost unknown, 
and education is so scantily diffused, as to render it difficult 
to procure a sufficient number of persons competent to 
administer the functions that would be created by a general 
scheme of popular local control. 

In accordance with this plan, we called for the evidence of 
persons presumed to be acquainted with the subject, as to 
the working of the Act which provided for the incorporation 
of Quebec. The inquiry was so far matured, that we should 
have been prepared, after devoting a little time to hearing 
evidence in Montreal, to submit to his Excellency a complete 


scheme of incorporation for both cities. After the performance 
of this, the more urgent part of our duty, it was our intention 
to have made a circuit of the rural districts, for the purpose 
of carefully examining the practical operation of such institu- 
tions as may have been devised for the regulation of local 
affairs, and of determining, from personal observation, to 
what extent, and under what restrictions, the agricultural 
population might safely become the depositories of municipal 
authority. The vague and conflicting character of the evidence 
submitted to us, even on matters of ordinary social concern, 
satisfied us of the necessity of closely examining, on the spot, 
the wants of the rural districts, their modes of local govern- 
ment, and their capacities for municipal organization. We 
were farther confirmed in this opinion, by the discouraging 
manner in which intelligent and experienced persons, both of 
British and Canadian blood, spoke of the hahitans in relation 
to the business of local management. They were almost 
unanimous in affirming, that the ignorance which prevails 
among this class, together with their deep-rooted dislike to 
every kind of tax and assessment, must render any attempt 
to improve the country, by means of a comprehensive 
municipal system, impracticable. 

From the line of proceeding which, under the circumstances 
referred to, we deemed it expedient to adopt, events untoward 
for the settlement of these colonies constrained us to depart. 
We were, therefore, obliged to alter the plan of investigation, 
so that we might be enabled to furnish a general report on 
the subject of our inquiry, which, while it might be insufficient 
to show precisely the machinery which ought to be constructed 
for the administration of local affairs in the province, might 
at least serve to demonstrate that some advances towards 
a less defective system are imperatively demanded. Instead 
of visiting Montreal and the townships and seigniories, as we 
proposed, we were forced to content ourselves with examining 
some of the executive officers who act in these localities, 
aided by whose testimony, with documents from various 
sources, we have drawn up a statement of the existing 
municipal establishments of Lower Canada, and the machinery 
that might be applied to the working of an improved and 
comprehensive system of local administration. The nature 
and efficacy of superior municipal institutions seem to be very 
imperfectly understood in this province ; and the evidence 
we have collected from parties examined is exceedingly meagre 
and indefinite. It is indeed comparatively valueless as a help 
to establishing a better order of things. One important 



inference, however, we could not fail to draw from it, namely, 
that there is no such thing as systematized local self-govern- 
ment in Lower Canada, and that although long under the rule 
of England, the province has participated far too sparingly in 
the benefits of sound British institutions. 

We do not propose to include minute details of evidence in 
the report which we are preparing to lay before you, but to 
embody under their proper head such hints for amendment 
as may seem of sufficient note to be adopted or recorded. 

We may be permitted to remark, that perhaps in no 
particular is the unhappy condition of this colony more 
conspicuous than in the apathy, or despondency, or party 
jealousy, with which persons, neither deficient in education 
nor wanting in the spirit of enterprise, are disposed to regard 
the constitution of new popular authorities for the manage- 
ment of matters of common interest. The proper fruits of 
representative government are not to be found in Lower 
Canada. We look in vain for the young, vigorous and generous 
institutions which ought to have grown up under its shade. 
The Constitutional Act conferred a representative government 
on the province. Yet, hitherto, the higher municipal functions 
have been discharged, partly by the provincial legislature, 
and partly by officers appointed by the central executive. 
The mass of the people, whose incapacity is censured or 
deplored, have been allowed the exercise of the greater 
privilege of electing provincial representatives, while, with 
singular inconsistency, they have been denied the minor right 
(the exercise of which would have been a wholesome prepara- 
tory for the discharge of the superior trust) of choosing 
municipal authorities, and thereby gradually acquiring a 
disciplined knowledge of their social duties in the school of 
practical citizenship. There are persons, too, who now plead 
for the restoration of the greater right, and still would hesitate 
to grant the lesser, contending that, until education is generally 
diffused, a system of popular local government would do more 
harm than good, and that, consequently, until a new and 
instructed generation shall arise, the Canadian farmers ought 
to remain without a voice in the management of the affairs 
with which they are most familiar, and for the prudent 
direction of which they have a paramount interest in providing. 

We have, &c. 

(signed) William Kennedy, 

Adam Thorn, 

Assistant Commissioners of Municipal Inquiry. 




The institutions by which the affairs of a country are to 
be regulated ought to be framed in accordance with the spirit 
of the people, their capacities for government, and the circum- 
stances of their physical condition. 

To bestow upon a people modes of government greatly in 
advance of the general state of society is hardly less unwise 
than to cause institutions to linger in the rear of the public 
mind. The imprudence of a sudden transition from political 
inexperience and dependence to the loosest habits of democracy 
is visible in the republics of South America ; it may be 
questioned whether most of the evils that afflict Lower Canada 
have not originated in an error of a like description. 

What is the present condition of the province, and how far 
are its inhabitants prepared, by previous discipline, to profit 
by a more liberal and comprehensive system of internal 
administration ? 

The earlier French settlements in Canada were made 
ostensibly with the view of converting its aboriginal inhabi- 
tants to the Roman Catholic faith. It happened, however, 
that of the Indians, a greater number were slain in provincial 
feuds than were christianized by missionary zeal. A military 
policy eventually prevailed in the government of the colony ; 
and to sustain this policy, the Court of France created a 
military noblesse, poor, proud, restless, and contemptuous of 
commerce. There was no real order of proprietorial nobility 
in the country. In 1763, France ceded Canada to England. 
In the same year, a Governor and Council were appointed, and 
a proclamation was issued, which substituted for the ' Custom 
of Paris,' heretofore the law of Canada, the civil and criminal 
law of England. It was ordered, that in legal proceedings 
the English language should alone be used ; the Governor 
was empowered to convene an Assembly elected by the 
* freeholders and planters,' and representatives were chosen 
accordingly for all the parishes except Quebec. Owing to 
difficulties arising out of the form of the oath prescribed to 
the representatives, the Assembly never sat. Thus, in the 
very first year of possession, did England hasten to ingraft 
her representative system on the sterile institutions of a colony, 



whose only progressive movement had been from monastic 
rule to military despotism. At a subsequent period, Governor 
Carleton and the chief law officers of the colony united in 
the opinion that the Canadians were not ripe for so large 
a share of legislative power as had at the outset been volun- 
teered for their acceptance. 

By an Act passed in 1774, it was provided, that in the 
administration of the colony, the Governor should be assisted 
by a Legislative Council, to consist of not less than 17 and 
not more than 23 persons (resident in the province), to be 
appointed by the Crown. The Act empowered the Council 
to impose such taxes (and such only) as the inhabitants of 
any town or district within the province might be ' authorized 
by the said Council to assess, levy, and apply within the said 
town or district for the purpose of making roads, erecting or 
repairing public buildings, or for any other purpose respecting 
the local convenience and economy of such town or district.' 
This Act re-established the French civil law in Canada. 

In the year 1791, the Imperial Parliament divided the 
province into Upper and Lower Canada, and gave to each 
a constitution modelled after the form of the British ; thus, 
within the narrow limit of 28 years, we find Lower Canada 
placed under four different modes of government ; viz., 
French military authorities ; English Governor and Council, 
with English law ; English Governor and Legislative Council, 
with French civil law ; and a constitution framed in imitation 
of the British, which constitution, after a troubled existence 
of less than half a century, has been suspended by the same 
imperial authority that called it into being. 

Lower Canada embraces a vast extent of territory in pro- 
portion to its population, its superficies extending over almost 
250,000 geographical square miles,"^ — ^about half the aggregate 
superficies of the British North American provinces. At the 
cession of the colony in 1763, its population was estimated at 
70,000. The return of the census of 1831 was. 

For the district of Montreal 

. 290,000 

Ditto ditto Quebec 

. 151,980 

Ditto ditto Three Rivers 

. 56,570 

Ditto ditto Gaspe 

. 13,312 

Estimated increase from 1831 to 1836 

. 88,000 

Total . 

. 599,862 

Of which it is computed that seven-eighths are Roman Catholics. 
The number of persons of this aggregate population, who are 

* Bouchette. 


of British origin, has been generally estimated at 200,000, of 
whom the great majority reside in the cities and parishes 
of Quebec and Montreal and the townships. The inhabitants 
of French origin are chiefly distributed along the banks of the 
St. Lawrence, as far up as Montreal. The land adjacent to 
this magnificent river exhibits the appearance of a continuous 
line of villages, a military mode of settlement, which presents 
obvious facilities for municipal organization. 

The bulk of the population of the townships is composed of 
old American loyalists and more recent settlers from the 
United States ; the remainder are emigrants from Britain. 
The townships in which settlements have been made are 
unequally peopled, some containing a sufficient number of 
inhabitants to form substantial communities, others varying 
in amount from, it may be, five to a hundred families and 

The hahitans, or agricultural population of French origin, 
hold their lands by feudal tenure, which prevails in the 
' seigniorial ' districts. Though under the sway of England 
for 75 years, they are but little changed in usages, and not 
at all in language. A very small proportion of them are 
acquainted with the first rudiments of education ; they use 
comparatively few imported articles, and their system of 
agriculture is generally rude and antiquated. Owing to the 
neglect of manure and a proper rotation of crops, the land in 
many places has become exhausted, and its cultivators, year 
after year, sink deeper in poverty. Scanty harvests during 
the last six or eight years, caused mainly by imperfect modes 
of culture or injudicious cropping, have reduced considerable 
numbers of the hahitans in the district of Quebec to a state 
of extreme destitution. In the district of Montreal, the 
farming is better, and the people more prosperous. The 
habitant is active, hardy and intelligent, but excitable, 
credulous ; and, being a stranger to every thing beyond his 
own contracted sphere, he is peculiarly liable to be made the 
dupe of political speculators. His ignorance of the English 
language prevents him from acquiring any knowledge of the 
sentiments and views of the British Government and people, 
except what he may derive from educated persons of his own 
race, interested, it may be, in deceiving him. Never having 
directly experienced the benefits of British rule in local affairs, 
and almost as much insulated from British social influences as 
if the colony had never changed masters, it is idle to expect 
that he should entertain any active feeling of attachment to 
the Crown. 



For opening new settlements the habitant has many useful 
qualifications, being usually competent to provide, by his 
personal skill, all the essentials requisite for his situation, 
such as house, clothing, and the ordinary farming implements. 
But having cleared his land, erected a dwelling for himself 
and a church for the cure, he remains stationary, contented 
with his lot, and living and dying as his ancestors lived and 
died before him. At the present day, for instance, a traveller 
may pass through districts where there is an abundance of 
excellent milk, and be unable to procure either butter or 
cheese with the sour and black-looking country bread which 
is served up at his meals ; and it is by no means an uncommon 
circumstance for a habitant to sell his manure to a neighbour- 
ing farmer, or throw it into the adjoining river, while every 
season his crops are deteriorating, in consequence of the 
degeneracy of the seed and the exhaustion of the soil. 

By the habitant a small gain, or saving of actual coin, is 
deemed much more important than a large expenditure of 
time ; and he will not easily be induced to venture on an 
immediate pecuniary outlay to secure a remote advantage, 
unless indeed the money is to be devoted to litigation, in which 
he loves to indulge. 

There is no class resembling English ' country gentlemen ' 
among the Canadians ; nor do the doctors, notaries and 
lawyers, who overabound in the colony, form an efficient 
substitute for such a class. Needy and discontented, they 
are more disposed to attempt an improvement in their own 
condition of political agitation, than to labour for the advance- 
ment of their uninstructed neighbours. The only body of men 
to whom the habitans can look for aid and direction are the 
parochial clergy, who, in the districts where their authority 
is unimpaired, act as a vigilant moral police, the efficiency of 
which is manifested in established habits of sobriety and order. 
Persons acquainted with the province are well aware that, in 
the disaffected districts, the influence of the Canadian clergy 
is much diminished. 

It appears, then, that the mode of village settlement adopted 
by the Franco-Canadians is favourable to the establishment 
of municipal institutions, and that the obstacles to be encoun- 
tered are the absence of education, popular inexperience, blind 
repugnance to taxation, and the absence of a wealthy and 
instructed class, interested in the prosperity of the many, 
and desirous of engaging gratuitously in the administration 
of local affairs. 

The townships afford better materials for municipal govern- 


ment than the seigniorial districts ; but, even in these localities, 
the state of education is very backward. A gentleman well 
acquainted with the townships WTites thus from Frelighsburg, 
in the county of Missisquoi, on the borders of the United 
States. ' The people are not anxious for municipal institutions, 
and if they receive them, they are prepared for a very limited 
power. I must warn you that the power of taxation, for any 
purpose whatever, would produce the greatest dissatisfaction. 
The Commissioners would therefore do well to confine the 
local ofiicers to performing administrative functions simply ; 
and if they do so, it is evident that their powers cannot be 
very extensive. But there is one set of powers which might 
be exercised by the officers to the great benefit of the people, 
and that is the control of roads. If the Commissioners see fit 
to recommend them to receive and exercise the same powers 
as the Grand Voyer now does, I am convinced that nothing 
would be looked upon as a greater boon. The expense, the 
trouble and vexation of procuring the establishment of a 
new road, or of altering the course of an old one, are so great 
that individuals undergo them only when necessity absolutely 
compels them. In a country such as this, the greatest facility 
ought to be given to the laying out of roads. It is by them 
that the country becomes settled and improved : without 
them it is nothing. Still I should not think it advisable to 
change the system. Here the method of making and repairing 
roads is infinitely preferable to any other — to that especially 
of the United States. The Commissioners might also, with 
great advantage, intrust to local officers the granting of 
warrants against debtors leaving the country, and for a sum 
much less than the one now fixed : they might reduce it to, 
say, 51. currency. The substance of the above suggestions 
is, shortly, 1st. Freeholders to recommend officers (I have said 
nothing about the term of service ; but I think part of them 
should go out of office every year : if three be appointed, 
one to go out ; if five, two). 2d. Powers limited to those now 
exercised by the Grand Voyer, and to granting warrants against 
absconding debtors. The warrant and whole proceedings to 
be brought before the Commissioners' Court for small causes, 
if the sum due be 61. 5s. ; and if greater, to be brought before 
the King's Bench.' 

It is to be observed that the writer of the preceding remarks, 
while he alleges that the people are not anxious for municipal 
institutions, bears testimony to the existing necessity for 
them with regard to the management of roads, — one of the 
most important matters that can fall within their range. 



Such, with the exception of the cities, is the general aspect 
of the province. But, unhappily, it must be added, that the 
distrust and animosity engendered by political dissension 
between the settlers of different races have materially increased 
the difficulty of establishing a sound and comprehensive 
system of local administration. 


The mere concession of a form of general government, in 
outline resembling its own, may amount to a very imperfect 
fulfilment of the duties owing by the imperial state to a 
conquered colony. It is possible that the original may be 
excellent and the outline correct, and yet the constitution fail 
to benefit the country to which it has been transplanted. 
When, in 1791, Mr. Pitt introduced to the House of Commons 
the Bill for granting a representative system of government 
to Lower Canada, Mr. Fox remarked, that ' the only means 
of retaining distant colonies with advantage, was to enable 
them to govern themselves ; ' — an opinion undoubtedly Just, if 
the speaker's ideas were not limited to the gift of some peculiar 
constitutional forms. The value of British constitutional forms 
to a people of foreign origin, language and manners, has been 
tested in Lower Canada, and may be ascertained by an 
examination of the provincial statute book, and an estimate 
of the benefits which have accrued to the colony from domestic 

The bulk of the statutes of Lower Canada bear upon matters 
of a strictly municipal character, and the labour of the 
present investigation has been materially increased by the 
necessity of sifting a mass of petty enactments, framed to 
endure for periods so short as rather to keep society in an 
anxious and unsettled state, than to afford it the blessings of 
security and repose. 

The Governor and Council who exercised their authority 
under the British statute, 14 Geo. 3, c. 83, commonly called 
' The Quebec Act,' were, as has been stated, so far restricted 
as to be incompetent to impose any tax or duty, excepting 
only local rates for local objects. This power of taxing — 
limited and exceptional as it was — ^was amply sufficient 
to provide for the establishment of efficient municipal institu- 
tions ; but, at so early a stage in the career of a thinly-peopled 
and newly-conquered colony, these institutions would most 

1852.3 L 


probably have been deemed premature, perhaps even dan- 
gerous. Besides, to secure their effective operation would 
have been a heavy burthen upon the indolence of colonial 
administration. A comparatively small portion of the 
legislation of the Governor and Council was, at all events, 
directed to objects of a municipal nature. Their legislation, 
if not remarkable for pains-taking, had the merit of being 
at once general and moderate ; neither usurping the functions 
of a parish meeting on the one hand, nor encroaching on 
the prerogatives of the Imperial Parliament on the other. 

Very different has been the course pursued by the legislature 
created by 31 Greo. 3, c. 31. The constitutional legislature 
of Lower Canada has too often betrayed its ignorance of 
its proper functions by dabbling in affairs unworthy of 
legislative cognizance, or grasping at matters beyond its 
legislative range ; equally anxious to extend the limits of its 
authority, and reluctant to delegate to other bodies a share 
of that authority. So much addicted has it been to this two- 
fold deviation from its legitimate province, that, during a 
term of 45 years, it has effected little or nothing towards 
fulfilling its highest and most important duty — the purging 
of the civil code of universally acknowledged evils. Almost 
every essential improvement introduced into the laws of the 
colony has been the work of the British Parliament in the 
Quebec Act, of the Governor and Legislative Council in 
their Ordinances, or of the Imperial Parliament in the Tenures 
Act. Such attempts at reform as have been made by the con- 
stitutional legislature have referred almost exclusively, not 
to the law itself, but to the administration of the law. Most 
of the§e attempts — developed in temporary statutes — some- 
times renewed, sometimes allowed to expire, have caused 
uncertainty and confusion ; while the judicature law (34 Geo. 3, 
c. 6), by multiplying Courts of King's Bench, and infusing 
them alternately into the Court of Appeal, has tended to 
produce and to perpetuate discordant systems of jurisprudence 
in the courts, both of original and appellate jurisdiction. 

Temporary laws, with a few exceptions, founded either on 
natural or constitutional necessity, are a barbarous solecism 
in legislation. To pass a law once, for a limited i)eriod, might 
evince a modest caution on the part of an inexperienced 
legislature (though even as an experiment, a temporary law 
could not have so fair a trial as a permanent one), but it would 
not be easy to justify the colonial practice of successively con- 
tinuing, from time to time, temporary Acts without amend- 
ment. It would be uncandid to throw upon the ambition or 


party spirit of any portion of the constitutional legislature of 
Lower Canada the odium of a system which is so general in 
colonies, and which has even been sanctioned by the British 
Government in its instructions to colonial governors ; but it 
is impossible to doubt that the political leaders of the majority 
of this province have perverted the power of framing temporary 
Acts into an instrument of factious aggrandizement. 

So far as the existence of any temporary law is necessary • 
or useful, the mere lapse of time must place the whole com- 
munity at the mercy of any one branch of the legislature, 
and the other branches must be often tempted to piu-chase 
reluctant assent by mischievous concessions. As a general 
instance of the evil, it is almost needless to mention that, so 
long ago as the year 1825, the Imperial Parliament was 
obliged to avert serious disasters by passing the Canada 
Trade Act, perpetuating certain temporary revenue laws of 
Lower Canada. As special instances of the unseasonableness 
of temporary laws, we may mention the brief incorporation 
of Quebec and Montreal, and the Act for establishing registry 
offices in the townships. 

Temporary laws, by encouraging every raw representative 
to try his hand at statute -making must promote slovenly 
legislation ; and even qualified representatives will too 
frequently be disposed to overlook the blunders of an enact- 
ment, which is only destined to continue for one or two years. 
The system, moreover, while it reserves too much discretionary 
authority to the legislature, to be exercised at the caprice of 
any particular branch thereof, also serves to conceal from 
the country at large the real amount of legislative labour. 
Exclude from the statute book of Lower Canada its slightly 
amended and merely continued laws, and its compass will 
be reduced very considerably. Deduct from the sum total 
of the enactments which it contains those that relate to 
matters purely municipal, which experience proves to be 
better cared for by local authorities than by general repre- 
sentative bodies, and the remainder will hardly seem of 
sufficient importance to warrant the expense of maintaining 
a provincial legislature. 

The subjoined tabular statement of the various ordinances 
and statutes respecting the cities of Quebec and Montreal 
may be taken as a fair specimen of the petty legislation of 
Lower Canada. 





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Under legislation so minute and inconstant, the laws by 
which the affairs of a community are regulated must generally 
be mere matter of surmise, and inconvenience and incongruity 
the certain result. The chimneys of Montreal have been swept 
one year under the Act Will. 4 ; and the next under a revived 
ordinance of Geo. 3. The dues on the Lachine Canal, a most 
expensive public work, w^ere uncollected for a year, owing to 
the non-renewal of the Act which authorized the collection. 
In consequence of a like omission, the wharfage dues of the 
Montreal Harbour were not legally exigible during the same 
year. Other instances might be adduced to show, that so 
long as the constitutional legislature exercised its functions, 
it was possible that local Acts of primary importance to the 
public interests might be suffered to expire, in order that 
a single branch of that legislature might, as a condition of the 
revival of these Acts, extort from the other branches com- 
pliance Avith its demands. In 1836, the House of Assembly 
declared its intention to adjourn its sittings until its demands 
had been granted. It is needless to advert to the ultimate 
consequences of this determination ; they are matter of 


The province of Lower Canada is divided into five districts : 
Quebec, Montreal, Three Rivers, Gaspe and St. Francis which 
are subdivided into Counties, Townships, Parishes and Extra- 
parochial places. 


The ' Districts,' properly so called, are almost exclusively 
judicial. They are independent of each other, and differ 
occasionally, both in the theory and practice of the law ; the 
inferior district of Gaspe being dependent on the district of 
Quebec, and, in fact, forming part thereof. The only other 
characteristic of the districts, whether dependent or indepen- 
dent, is, that they have each their own grand-voyer, with the 
single exception of the district of St. Francis. 

St. Francis. — ^It is to be remarked, that while the district 
of St. Francis was merely an inferior district, dependent partly 
on the district of Montreal, and partly on that of Three 
Rivers, the grand-voyers of these districts had full jurisdiction 
each of his own section ; but now that it is superior and in- 

* The capricious legislation of the province has not been rendered less 
injurious by a steady and well-sustained executive. From the year 1799 
down to the present time, the administration of Lower Canada has passed 
from one Governor to another, on an average, once in every two years. 


dependent, some degree of confusion seems to exist with 
respect to the legal position of the said grand-voyers within 
its limits. They both act as if no such district were in exist- 
ence ; and yet, by the road laws, any offence against the 
laws can be punished only within the district where it was 
committed. A question thus arises as to which district is 
understood — ^the judicial or the road district. 

(xospe. — The inferior district of Gaspe includes the two 
counties of Gaspe and Bonaventure. It contains a scattered 
population of mixed races, British, Canadians, natives of 
Jersey and Guernsey, and Acadians. Placed at the embouchure 
of the St. Lawrence, and distant about 400 miles from Quebec, 
the affairs of Gaspe have occupied but a comparatively small 
share of public or legislative attention, and its inhabitants 
are in a most primitive state as regards local improvements. 
Mr. Power, who represented Gaspe in the House of Assembly, 
states, that ' the roads in the district are very bad ; there are, 
in fact, no roads in the settlements in the interior. The people 
are much dissatisfied with the administration of justice. 
They complain of the distance they have to travel to New 
Carlisle, the principal town and seat of justice, and wish for 
a judge in each county. There is but one circuit in the year ; 
there is no description of poUce ; and though magistrates 
have been appointed, the greater part of them did not qualify, 
being without the requisite landed property. Law has no 
great force in the district, people doing much as they like.' 

Looking to the position which Gaspe occupies upon the 
map, it becomes a question whether it would not be sound 
national policy, as well as for the advantage of the district 
itself, to unite it with the improving province of New Bruns- 
wick. An arrangement of this kind would certainly tend to 
simplify the administration of Lower Canada, would benefit 
the district itself, and would render the province more compact 
for the working of improved institutions. In the event of the 
severance of Gaspe from Lower Canada, perhaps the most 
convenient boundary would be the river Mitis, or Rimouski. 


The counties are principally political subdivisions, laid 
down with a view to the returning of members to the Provincial 

By 2 Will. 4, cap. 44, the counties had potentially, for a short 
time, a municipal character, through the collective action of 
the road commissioners of the respective parishes, townships, 
&c., and of the Justices of the peace who homologated or 


rejected proces verhaux ; but, as it was discretional with any 
parish or township to continue under the old system, or to 
avail itself of the Act, very few counties, more especially in 
the seigniorial districts, ever assumed the character in question. 

By 2 Will. 4, cap. 66, and by 4 Will. 4, cap. 8, the counties, 
moreover, have had and will, until the 1st of May 1840, have 
potentially a judicial existence. But of the said Acts only two 
counties have availed themselves in any degree ; and even 
those two have not established quarter sessions of civil and 
criminal jurisdiction, which the Acts were intended to 

Parishes and Townships. 

Parishes (which, so far as they are ecclesiastical, are almost 
exclusively for Catholic purposes) and townships are merely 
divisions for local improvement, and for the better prevention 
of abuses prejudicial to agriculture. By means of these 
divisions, the farmers are enabled to provide for the repairing 
of roads, and the inspection of fences, ditches, watercourses, 
&c. Each parish and township is subdivided into not more 
than nine sections. Parishes vary in extent, but the townships 
usually embrace a superficies of 100 square miles, or 10 miles 
square, or 64,000 acres each. 

Parochial Officers and Parish Funds. 

For the management of the secular concerns of the Catholic 
churches, a court or council exists in the several parishes, 
composed of three acting churchwardens, and of persons 
who have filled the office of churchwarden : of the three 
wardens, the senior is the principal. One of the number is 
elected every year ; in most cases by the court or council, 
though in a few localities by the notables or principal 
parishioners. Where there is more business than the wardens 
are able to get through, as sometimes happens, a portion of it 
is devolved upon the committees of the council. Ten or 
twelve years ago, Mr. Papineau's party in the House of 
Assembly brought forward a bill to empower the parishioners 
to choose their churchwardens. The agitation of this measure, 
which passed through the House of Assembly, created con- 
siderable excitement at the time ; but the bill was rejected 
by the Legislative Council, and ultimately abandoned. Mr. J. 
I^ngevin, who has acted as churchwarden in Quebec, says, 
that the present system of election works satisfactorily, as 
the persons chosen are generally respectable. 

The senior churchwarden collects the pew-rents and all 
monies owing to the church, which go to the support of the 


edifice. Where the business of the parish is extensive and 
the outlay considerable, a paid agent is chosen to receive and 
disburse money and register the accounts, which are examined 
annually by two persons nominated by the council. No 
salary or entertainment is allowed to the wardens or members 
of the council. When the funds of the fabrique are insufiicient 
for any large undertaking, such as the erection of a church, 
the requisite assessments are raised in this manner : a list, 
with the amount of each parishioner's contribution, is made 
by trustees appointed by the majority of the parishioners ; 
this list is submitted to the superior courts of law, and, should 
it receive their sanction, becomes an assessment binding on 
the parties whose names are inrolled in it. The money thus 
raised is expended under the superintendence of the trustees. 
The law for regulating this department of parish business is 
contained in old French ordinances, which are so doubtful and 
contradictory as to occasion frequent litigation. A suit of this 
kind was commenced at Three Rivers, which lasted 15 years. 
No part of the funds of the fabrique is appropriated 
to the relief of the poor. Mr. Langevin states, that if such 
a disposal of the parish money had at any time taken place, 
it must have been by way of loan, or with the formal sanction 
of the parishioners, on some extraordinary occasion, there 
being no legal authority for it. The income of the Catholic 
clergy is derived from their share of all grain grown on the 
lands of the Catholic parishioners, which share is not a tenth, 
but a twenty-sixth bushel. 

School Districts. 
According to the system of elementary schools, each 
county has been divided into districts, generally, if not always, 
smaller than a parish or township. The number of school 
districts has varied under different Acts of the legislature. 




Assistant Civil Secretary. 
Provincial Secretary and Registrar. 
Inspector-general of Accounts. 

* Every officer of any note in the province is appointed by the Crown, 
and all hold their appointments during its pleasure. 


Clerk of the Special Council. 
Inspector-general of the Queen's Domain. 
Adjutant -general of Militia. 
Commissioners of Crown Lands. 
Agent for Emigrants at Quebec. 

Administration of Justice : 

Chief Justice of the Province. 

Chief Justice of Montreal. 

Three Judges of the Court of King's Bench at Quebec. 

Three Judges of the said Court at Montreal. 

Provincial Resident Judge at Three Rivers. 

Provincial Judge of the District of Gaspe. 

Provincial Judge of the District of St. Francis. 

Judge of the Court of Vice-Admiralty at Quebec. 



Advocate -general. 

Sheriffs : 

District of Quebec. 
,, Montreal. 

„ Three Rivers. 
,, Gaspe. 
„ St. Francis. 

Coroners : 

District of Quebec. 
„ Montreal. 
,, Three Rivers 
,, Gaspe. 
„ St. Francis. 

Clerks of the Crown : 
District of Quebec. 
,, Montreal. 
„ Three Rivers. 

Clerk of the Court of Appeals : 
Prothonotaries of the Court of King's Bench : 
District of Quebec. 

„ Montreal. 

,, Three Rivers. 

,, Gasp6. 

„ St. Francis. 



Clerks of the Peace : 
District of Quebec. 
,, Montreal. 

,, Three Rivers. 
,, Gaspe. 
,, St. Francis. 

Inspectors of Police : 
District of Quebec. 
,, Montreal. 

Collectors : 

District of Quebec. 
St. John's. 
Coteau du Lac. 

Highways and Bridges, 
Grand Voyers : 

District of Quebec. 
„ Montreal. 
„ Three Rivers. 
„ Gaspe. 


Circuit Courts. 

A GRAND desideratum in Lower Canada is a supreme court 
of original jurisdiction for the whole province ; there being at 
present four co-ordinate courts, each of them supreme in its 
own particular district. Hence inconvenience, delay, expense, 
uncertainty and confusion. 

The existing system has doubtless been framed, and from 
time to time extended, with the laudable view of bringing 
justice as near as possible to every man's door ; but it has, 
unfortunately, had a different effect. To work well, one 
supreme court must necessarily be accompanied by a thorough 
organization of circuits ; whereas the multiplication of 
supreme courts not only diminished the necessity for such 
organization, but was intended to supply its place. 

These observations are necessary before entering upon 
any notice of the present system of circuits, which extends 


to the rural districts the jurisdiction merely of the ' inferior 
terms ' of the supreme courts — a jurisdiction little more 
extensive than that of the commissioners for the trial of small 
causes — ^being confined to suits not exceeding the amount 
of 10^. sterling. In the townships not comprised within the 
district of St. Francis, it is a just ground for complaint, that 
the circuit stations have not been multiplied since the enact- 
ment of 34 Geo. 3, c. 6, to meet the wants of a rapidly -peopling 

Small Cause Courts. 

By 6 Will. 4, c. 17, any parish, seigniory, township or extra- 
parochial place, on petition of not less than 100 freeholders 
(200 in the cities of Quebec and Montreal) may call on the 
Governor ' to appoint as commissioners such and so many 
fit and proper persons as he shall think fit,' ' to hear and deter- 
mine in a summary way, according to the facts as proved, 
and to law to the best of their knowledge and judgment, all 
suits and actions purely personal (with the exceptions herein- 
after made) to the amount of 61. 5s. currency.' 

The small cause courts are held weekly in the cities, and, 
in the rural districts, on the first and third Saturday of every 
month, with power of adjournment. The commissioners act 
gratuitously, assisted by a clerk, who is paid by fees. 

There are various opinions as to the working of this Act, 
which has been but a short time in operation ; the first 
commission under it having only issued May 20, 1838. In 
Quebec, there are ten commissioners of English extraction 
and three of French ; many of the latter having declined to 
accept the appointment when offered to them by Sir John 
Colborne. One of the most active (Mr. T. L. M'Pherson, 
notary) estimates the costs of suit at from 5s. to 75. 6d. He 
thinks the court might advantageously determine personal 
causes to the amount of lOl. sterling. Mr. Rodier, a com- 
missioner of the Montreal Small Cause Court, states that the 
weight of the business presses very heavily on the time of the 
commissioners, who ought, he conceives, to be paid for their 

In Quebec and Montreal, the court appears to give satisfac- 
tion ; but there is reason to apprehend that there will be 
a falling off in the attendance of commissioners, unless they 
are paid.* Mr. Knoulton, of Brome Township, thinks the 

* In Lower Canada, especially among the inhabitants of French extraction, 
there is a general indisposition to serve the public -without pecuniary 
remuneration. This reluctance is not of recent growth. ' At present,' 
remarks Sir James Marriott, the accomplished and sagacious Advocate- 


commissioners should be allowed reasonable fees for their 
trouble. The court, he says, works decidedly ill in his district ; 
men being appointed to act as commissioners who are destitute 
of public regard. The small cause courts will, of course, greatly 
increase petty and vexatious litigation, and as the com- 
missioners must reside within the limits of their jurisdiction, 
it is probable that there will be not a few cases of interested 
oppression. Such courts, if established in and for larger 
districts, as counties for example, might be placed on a less 
questionable footing. Local residence would not be so 
objectionable, and there being a wider circle for the selection 
of commissioners, it is to be presumed that a better class of 
persons would be chosen. 

Magistrates. — The magistrates are unpaid, and are appointed 
by the Crown. By a law of the provincial legislature, which 
will exist until the 1st May 1840, it was provided that every 
justice of the peace should possess immovable property, 
worth, after the discharge of all liabilities, at least 3001. cur- 
rency. The practical result of this law was to lead to the 
withdrawal of some of the most valuable magistrates. The 
law calling for a qualification in land was also extended to the 
militia, which caused the dismissal or disqualification of many 
useful and intelligent ofiicers. 

By various provincial Acts the powers of justices are defined 
and regulated. Sometimes they may act singly, sometimes 
two together, sometimes three, sometimes in special sessions 
in any part of the province, and sometimes in quarter sessions 
in the various judicial ' districts '. 

One of their most important duties in quarter sessions is, 
to decide on the legality or illegality of the grand- voyer's 
proces verbaux — a duty which, as it bears on legal forms rather 
than on questions of fact, cannot be prudently left to un- 
professional men. Hence, among other reasons, an almost 
universal feeling in favour of having paid professional chair- 
men of quarter sessions. 

To make a judicious choice of magistrates in the rural 
districts, or even in the cities, must always have been one of 
the most difficult duties of the provincial executive ; and the 
difficulty has been much increased by the act of qualffication, 
which exemplifies the danger of following too closely the 

general, in his " Plan of a Code of Laws for the Province of Quebec " — * at 
present, the Canadians, as it is stated upon good authority, complain 
of the attendance upon juries in civil suits as a heavy burthen and interrup- 
tion of their occupations ; though they like well enough to be tried by 
juries, they do not like to be the triers without some compensation.' 


analogies of England. In the corporate towns of England no 
pecuniary qualification is now required, and in the counties 
the qualification is so generally diffused as not materially to 
fetter the judicious exercise of the regal prerogative ; and 
there, moreover, the landed qualification is what it cannot 
generally be in Canada, a pretty fair index of intelligence and 
respectability. Here, the qualification was the more uncalled 
for, as nothing of the kind had been required for the admission 
of a member of the legislature, whether of the House of 
Assembly or of the Legislative Council. It was farther 
objectionable, as open to the charge of being a party measure, 
inasmuch as it had a tendency to affect more extensively that 
race which, being newer to the country, and very generally 
devoted to commercial pursuits, possessed rather personal than 
real property. Besides, a qualification in land is nominal and 
delusive in Lower Canada, because from the want of a registry 
of real estate, even the apparent proprietor, acting in good 
faith, may be utterly ignorant of the incumbrances on his 
possessions ; and because through the operations of the law 
of marriage, an insolvent husband may feel himself justified 
in taking the requisite oath. The system of unpaid magistracy, 
as incidental to the criminal law of England, was naturally 
introduced into the province with that law ; and the utter 
unfitness of the people for such an institution is a striking 
instance of the imprudence of unadvisedly engrafting the code 
of one country on that of another. There was not in 1763, 
nor is there now, a sufficient number of men capable from 
education, intelligence and disinterestedness of deciding 
singly between contending parties ; and the magisterial system 
ought to be so far modified as to require two or three justices 
of the peace for every district of any importance. In other 
words, there ought to be local courts, sitting at least once a 
month in sections of country larger than parishes and town- 
ships, and smaller than ' districts ', technically so called. 
The greatest care ought also to be taken to guard against the 
admission of uneducated, indolent, factious or otherwise 
improper persons into the magistracy, and the duties hitherto 
incidental to the office might be advantageously lightened by 
the establishment of more effective institutions. 

Courts of Quarter Sessions. 

By the 2d Will. 4, c. 66, and 4th Will. 4, c. 8, both of which 

Acts will expire on the 1st of May 1840, county courts of quarter 

sessions, having a civil as well as a criminal jurisdiction, may 

be held whenever, under the provisions of the said Acts, court- 



houses and gaols have previously been erected ; half the ex- 
pense of erecting such edifices being paid by the counties, and 
the remainder by the province. Such buildings have, however, 
been erected only in two counties, L'Acadie and St. Hyacinthe, 
and even in these, with a solitary exception in St. Hyacinthe, 
courts of quarter sessions have never been held. With respect 
to the civil jurisdiction of these courts, the law seems to have 
been hastily framed. It was designed to extend to all claims, 
whether real or personal, not exceeding 10/. sterling ; without 
making any provision for evocation or appeal, even in cases 
that might be evoked from the ' inferior term ' of the Court 
of King's Bench to the superior, — ^thence carried to the Court 
of Appeal, and thence to the Privy Council. 

Courts of monthly, or even weekly sessions might be very 
useful, if controlled and guided by an impartial chairman of 
professional education — a mixed system which has worked 
well in Nova Scotia. These courts might furnish, either on the 
bench or in their grand juries, valuable instruments for county 
objects of a municipal character, such as the management of 
the poor, police, &c. One palpable advantage they would afford 
to the rural population, viz. the means of appealing against a 
proces verbal of the grand-voyer, without incurring the expense 
and trouble of forwarding it to the chief town of the district. 

There were, until 1830, paid professional chairmen of quarter 
sessions for Quebec, Montreal, Three Rivers and Gaspe, but 
some of the parties filling the office having fallen under the 
displeasure of the House of Assembly, they were all obliged 
to retire in consequence of the House refusing to vote their 
salaries. The discontinuance of these officers has been a 
subject of much complaint, and has proved exceedingly pre- 
judicial to the due administration of justice. 


There are no public buildings of a municipal character in the 
province other than court-houses and gaols, with the exception 
of such as will be mentioned under the head of ' The Poor '. 

In the court-houses of Quebec and Montreal are held the 
sittings of the Court of King's Bench, and of the Courts of 
Vice -Admiralty and Quarter Sessions. 

Court-houses and Gaols — (Districts). 
These have been built partly at the expense of the province 
by public grants, and partly at the expense of suitors by fees 
on suits. There are two of these buildings in Gaspe. 

1352.3 M 


Court-houses and Gaols — (Counties). 
By 2 Will. 4, c. 66, amended by 4 Will. 4, c. 8, every county 
was authorized (voting by parishes or townships) to erect 
a court-house and gaol ; half the cost to be advanced by 
the government if it did not exceed 600?. currency, and the 
remainder to be assessed on the real property of the county, 
according to a rule which must be pronounced vague and 
iniquitous. The edifices were to be repaired, and establish- 
ments maintained by fees on suits. Of this Act only the 
counties of L'Acadie and St. Hyacinthe practically availed 
themselves, although it held out the advantage of a county 
court of civil and criminal jurisdiction as the recompense for 
the erection of a court-house and gaol. 

Houses of Correction. 
These did exist under temporary laws, and, as might be 
expected, were purely temporary themselves ; they exist no 

Court-houses — (Circuits). 
There are none ; public school-houses are convertible into 
judicial edifices for the occasion. 


Police may be either preventive or executive. 

At the date of the arrival of the Earl of Durham as Governor- 
general, there was not, in any part of the province, a body of 
preventive police, the night-watch of Quebec and Montreal (the 
only force of the kind that had ever existed) having been broken 
up in May 1836, in consequence of the expiring of the statute in 
that case made and provided. By the Provincial Ordinance, 
2 Vict. c. 2, an efficient system of preventive police was estab- 
lished in the cities of Quebec and Montreal, the authority 
of which has since been extended by proclamation, issued under 
the said ordinance, to the respectively adjacent parishes. 

The executive police of the province are the captains, 
subalterns and Serjeants of militia, the militia itself being 
but a nominal force, which includes every male inhabitant 
between 16 and 60 years of age. By the Permanent Ordinance, 
27 Geo. 3, c. 6, militia-men are declared to be, ex officio, peace- 
officers within their respective ' parishes ' ; and, by the 
statute 6 Will. 4, c. 37, they are declared to be so within their 
respective 'districts'. But constables, properly so called, 
may be appointed by the justices of the peace, acting either 
singly or collectively ; and by 6 Will. 4, c. 19, s. 6, bailiffs 


of any Court of King's Bench are authorized to act as con- 
stables within tlie district of such court. The whole militia, 
too, of the province may be considered as a preventive police, 
inasmuch as the Provincial Ordinance, 1 Vict. c. 22, s. 13, 
enacts that ' all or any of the militia in any parish, township, 
extra-parochial place or county, may be ordered out by the 
civil authority in execution of the laws.' 

Village Police. 

For the removal of nuisances and the prevention of accidents 
by fire in towns and villages, it was enacted by 4 Geo. 4, c. 2, 
that wherever there were 30 inhabited houses on 15 arpents "^ 
of land, or less, or on a greater extent of ground a greater 
number of houses, not more than half an arpent apart, the 
freeholders should meet and choose from their number five 
trustees, who, on application of three freeholders, should 
appoint an inspector of the borough or village, to cause the 
regulations of the Act to be executed, and to enforce penalties. 
This Act was in force until May 1836, when it expired. It 
was revived, with amendments, by 6 Will. 4, c. 46, and will 
expire again in May 1840. According to the terms of this Act, 
nearly the whole of the Franco -Canadian settlements would 
be legally classified as villages, so dense is the population. 

It may in general be remarked that the criminal law of 
England, which was introduced by the Royal Proclamation 
of 1763, and confirmed by the Quebec Act of 1774, necessarily 
brought with it all its system of executive police ; which is, 
either actually or potentially, still in force, unless so far as it 
may have been modified by provincial enactments. 

The imposition of constabulary duties on the militia is both 
burdensome and unsafe. Offenders are passed from captain 
to captain, by whom the Serjeants are ordered to take charge 
of them ; and they being indifferent to the due execution 
of an irksome duty, escapes are frequent, whenever the party 
in custody has reason to dread the result of his detention. 
If the habitans have any political sympathy with the prisoner, 
his escape is certain. There are no prisons nor places of 
temporary confinement in the rural districts ; so that a prisoner 
may be passed from militia-man to militia-man, for 200 miles, 
before he can be lodged in a place of safe keeping. The 
system offers no security whatever for the protection of 
the public peace or the rights of property. The following 
complaint of the want of a proper police was addressed to 
the Assistant Commissioners of Municipal Inquiry by three 

* An arpent, or French acre, is about four-fifths of an English acre. 

M 2 


respectable inhabitants of the township of Hull, in the county 
of Ottawa, one of them — ^we believe two — being in the 
magistracy, Messrs. Wright, Taylor and Brigham. 

' You are, no doubt, aware that our situation is immediately 
on the Chaudiere Falls, where pass yearly above 160,000 pieces 
of timber for the Quebec market. In consequence of the 
obstruction of the navigation, the whole of the people employed 
in this branch of business are, from time to time, collected in 
this vicinity. Frequent breaches of the peace occur, offenders 
pass with impunity, and because we are unable to put the 
law in force, many profligate characters commit crimes and 
persist in their wicked courses, knowing that it is impossible 
for us to get them to Montreal. Thus a very heavy tax is 
levied upon the magistracy in attending to complaints. No 
good results therefrom ; in fact, the magistrates have nearly 
given up the idea of trying to send culprits to Montreal, as 
all that are sent, as by law authorized (through the militia), 
have made their escape, and returned worse characters and 
more difficult to restrain than before. 

' You will perceive, from the above facts, that something 
more efficient is requisite for this place than any other perhaps 
in the province, with the exception of the cities of Quebec, 
Montreal and the town of Three Rivers. It is true that pro- 
vision was made by our late legislature for the erection of 
court-houses and gaols in the several counties of the province ; 
but the jarring interests called into play by the provisions of 
the Act have rendered it useless in this county, and, we believe, 
in almost every other in the province. 

' The laws regulating our roads are also very defective ; 
those who make the most use of them not being obliged to 
do any thing towards their repair. Something should be 
done to compel merchants and residents, who do not own 
lands, to do their share of labour in supporting the roads.' 

Through the incompetency of the existing legislature to 
impose even local rates for local purposes, the heavy expense 
of maintaining the necessary police force of Quebec and 
Montreal, instead of falling, as it ought to fall, upon the 
localities that benefit thereby, is thrown on the general funds 
of the province. It cannot be too deeply regretted that, 
during the discussions of the passing of the ' Imperial Act ', 
1 Vict. c. 9, the friends of Lower Canada did not, in general 
terms, demand the full benefit of the analogy of the Quebec 
Act, by which the Governor and Council, though restricted 
as to the power of general taxation, had full authority to 
impose local rates for local purposes. 



The absence of this essential power must have crippled 
every attempt to introduce early and extensive plans of im- 
provement , whether legal, municipal or educational. The follow- 
ing are the enactments respecting matters of rural police. 

Rural Police : — Ordinances and Statutes. 

. Year. Reign 














10 & 










Geo. 3 
Will. 4 

Geo. 3 

Geo. 4 

Will. 4 
Geo. 4 

57 1 Geo. 3 

Geo. 4 

Will. 4 










Abandon des animaux. Extended by 
4 Geo. 4, c. 33, s. 27, and virtually 
repealed by 6 Will. 4, c. 56, till 
1st May 1845. 

Preserves grass on beaches below city 
of Quebec. 

Remedies abuses prejudicial to agri- 
culture ; consolidating and repeal- 
ing all former Acts till 1st May 1845. 

Provides for appointment of inspec- 
tors and constables in towns and 
villages till 1st January 1811, &c. 

Provides for police of William Henry, 
and other villages, repealing all 
former Acts till 1st May 1826. 

Revises and amends the foregoing 
Act till 1st May 1840. 

Provides for maintenance of good 
order in churches, &c., repealing all 
former Acts till 1st May 1830 : 

Continued by 10 & 11 Geo. 4, 
c. 21, till 1 May 1834. 

Continued by 4 Will. 4, c. 9, till 
1 May 1836. 

Continued by 6 Will. 4, c. 32, 
till 1 May 1840. 

Facilities ; administration of petty 
justice in rural parishes, till 1st May 

Continued by 59 Geo. 3, c. 20, 
till 1 May 1821. 

Continued by 1 Geo. 4, c. 3, till 
1 May 1823. 

Continued by 3 Geo. 4, c. 2, till 
1 May 1825. 

Continued by 5 Geo. 4, c. 24, till 
1 May 1827. 

Provides for establishment of fairs 
till 1st May 1826. 

Establishes market in village of St. 

Provides for ascertaining boundaries 
of parishes, ' for civil purposes.' 

Authorizes the erection of court- 
houses and gaols in the counties till 
1st May 1840. 

Amends the foregoing Act. 

Provides for safe conveyance of 
criminal prisoners from country 
parts to common gaol. 



By the 41 Geo. 3, c. 17, which is still in force, ' a majority 
of the inhabitants ' of any parish or township, by petitioning 
the Governor for the establishment of one or more schools of 
royal foundation, may subject the whole parish or township 
to the expense of erecting suitable school-houses for the in- 
struction of pupils and the accommodation of teachers. By 
subsequent statutes grants of money were made in favour of 
school districts ; and by the more recent Acts of the Pro- 
vincial Legislature, all of which, however, have expired, such 
heads of families as were qualified to vote for members of 
Assembly were authorized to elect school trustees for each 
school district. 

In the session of 1835-6, the House of Assembly sent up 
a Bill to the Legislative Council, where it was rejected, which 
proposed to give to the majority of the inhabitants of any 
parish, township or extra-parochial place, assembled for the 
purpose, the power of taxation to a certain extent for the 
support of schools ; but it went no farther than barely to 
give the power, neither offering inducement, nor imposing 
obligation, with a view to ensure its exercise. 

Very few, if any, parishes or townships availed themselves 
of the provisions of the 41 Geo. 3, c. 17, for assessing them- 
selves for the support of schools — one out of many proofs, 
that optional taxation is not suitable to the people of Lower 

Under the school laws the actual practice has, in all instances, 
fallen short in point of regularity and efficacy of the require- 
ments of the statutes. Of the various enactments contained 
in those laws, hardly any are accompanied by provisions 
calculated to produce their punctual fulfilment and practical 
operation. As might have been anticipated, they have been 
neglected or evaded in all those particulars that involved any 
sacrifice of immediate interest or convenience on the part of 
the inert and unrefiecting mass for whose benefit they were 


The Poor of Lower Canada, so far as they have been the 
objects of legislative provision, may be divided into two 

First Class. — The first class consists of such individual 
objects of charity as are to be found in every country — ^the 
insane, the sick, the infirm, the friendless, and the destitute. 


Second Class. — The second class consists of such multi- 
tudes of persons in particular localities as require aid to avert 
the consequences, whether present or prospective, of an alleged 
failure of the crops. 

The first class has been practically subdivided into residents 
and strangers. 

I. Residents. 

Charitable institutions in Lower Canada were early founded 
by religious communities of the Roman Catholic faith ; but 
we find that previous to the foundation of the General Hospital 
of Quebec (which is at present, as heretofore, under the charge 
of nuns governed by a superior), an office for the relief of the 
poor, ' Bureau des Pauvres,' had been established at Quebec. 
The expenditure of this office was controlled by trustees, and 
every colonist and community was bound to contribute 
annually to the funds. In the country parishes the mainten- 
ance of the poor was provided for in a similar manner. 

So far as the statute-book affords information on the sub- 
ject, it appears that steps towards the support of the poor 
were fu-st taken by British authority at the commencement 
of the present century. In the preamble of 41 Geo. 3, c. 6, 
is recited the substance of a suggestion contained in the 
Lieutenant-governor's speech, 'for securing and supporting 
such indigent persons as from a temporary or lasting derange- 
ment of intellect are incapable of earning their subsistence, 
and regarding the means to be employed to prevent the 
inhuman practice of exposing and deserting new-born infants '. 
On this suggestion the legislature, ' until further and more 
effectual provision could be made,' authorized the Governor 
to apply 1,000^. currency a year, for the next three years, for 
the purposes aforesaid, and for the aid and support of such 
religious communities as receive and administer relief to sick 
and infirm persons and foundlings. By a series of temporary 
statutes the annual grant was gradually raised in the course 
of eighteen years from 1,000/. currency to 3,500/. currency, 
the latter grants having been divided by the legislature in 
certain unequal proportions between the districts of Quebec, 
Montreal and Three Rivers. In the Act which raised the 
grant to 3,500/. currency, namely, 58 Geo. 3, c. 13, appears 
the first symptom of ' further and more effectual provision ', 
as promised by the legislature in 1801. This Act authorized 
the Governor to apply 2,500/. currency for the purpose of 
building and repairing certain wards or apartments in one of 
the wings of the General Hospital, near the city of Quebec, 


' for the reception and relief of insane persons ', and 2,000?. 
currency for building additional wards and apartments for 
the aforesaid purposes adjacent to those already in use, at 
or near the General Hospital in the city of Montreal. 

The last Act passed on the same narrow basis was 3 Geo. 4, 
c. 25, granting 5,585?. 175. lOd. currency for the year 1823 ; and 
even in the same sessions other grants were made on a some- 
what more liberal basis. The very next Act, namely, 3 Geo. 4, 
c. 26, granted 850Z. currency to the Montreal General Hospital, 
and 2,139/. 6s. 9d. currency to the Hotel Dieu of Quebec, as 
an aid ' to complete the wards, buildings and dependencies 
by them recently erected in the city of Quebec, on the ground 
of the poor of the said Hotel Dieu, with funds arising from 
savings on the income of the poor aforesaid, and with funds 
heretofore appropriated for that purpose by the legislature ' ; 
and the third Act thereafter, namely, 3 Greo. 4, c. 29, granted 
250/. currency a year, for two years, to the House of Industry 
of the city of Montreal. 

By the Ordinance 1 Vict. c. 17, of the present year (1838), 
the following grants were made to charitable institutions to 
defray the charges of the year commencing in October 1836, 
and ending in October 1837, viz. 658/. 6s. 8d. currency, towards 
the expense of supporting the insane persons in the cells of 
the General Hospital at Quebec ; 511/. currency towards the 
expense of maintaining sick and infirm boarders in said 
hospital, and 100/. currency towards their clothing ; 580/. 
currency towards the expense of maintaining the foundlings 
in the hospital of the Hotel Dieu at Quebec, and 15/. currency 
towards their clothing ; 200/. currency for support of indigent 
sick in the said hospital 600/. currency towards the support 
of the foundlings in the General Hospital of the Grey Nuns 
at Montreal ; 220/. currency towards the support of insane 
persons in the cells of said hospital ; 850/. currency towards 
defraying the current expenses of the corporation of the 
General Hospital at Montreal ; 400/. currency towards the 
maintenance of the indigent sick in the convent of Ursuline 
Nuns at Three Rivers, and of supporting the insane persons 
and foundlings under the charge of the Commissioners of the 
said district ; 100/. currency as an aid to the lady managers 
of the Orphan Asylum at Quebec ; 75/. currency to the lady 
managers of the Asylum at St. Roch's suburbs, Quebec ; 
100/. currency to the Ladies' Charitable Society (for orphans) 
at Montreal ; 100/. currency to the Ladies' Benevolent Society 
(for widows and orphans) at Montreal ; and 100/. currency 
for the Orphans' Asylum at Montreal. 


The Montreal House of Industry was established by 
58 Geo. 3, c. 15, with very inadequate funds, and agreeably 
to the last will and testament of one John Conrad Marsteller. 
With the exception of the aforesaid grant of 500/., it has not 
received any further aid from the legislature, or any accession 
to its funds from other sources. For the last two winters an 
institution, styling itself ' House of Industry ', has been main- 
tained in Montreal, chiefly (if not altogether) by voluntary 
subscriptions, and these almost entirely from the British 
inhabitants. The constitution of the Montreal House of 
Industry has been slightly amended by 2 Geo. 4, c. 6 ; 7 Geo. 4, 
c. 4, and 9 Geo. 4, c. 43. 

By the Act 45 Geo. 3, c. 12, for establishing the Corpora- 
tion of the Trinity House of Quebec, provision was made for 
creating a fund for ' decayed pilots and their widows and 
children '. 

II. Strangers. 

Strangers having a claim on charitable support have been 
practically ranked in two classes — Emigrants and Mariners. 

Emigrants. — The statute 3 Geo. 4, c. 7, authorized the 
Governor to advance, for the year 1823, 750Z. currency, for 
the relief of indigent sick emigrants, to be dispensed by 
justices of the peace residing in Quebec ; the preamble of the 
Act holding this promise — ' until permanent establishments 
for the relief of the indigent sick of all denominations can be 
made, in addition to those which already exist.' Under this 
Act, the justices of the peace aforesaid established an ' Emi- 
grant Hospital '. 

The sum of 600?. currency was granted by 4 Greo. 4, c. 32, 
authorizing the admission into the hospital of ' indigent sick 
of whatsoever denomination, labouring under contagious 
diseases,' as well as of ' indigent sick emigrants from the 
United Kingdom '. Farther grants were made ; viz. for 1825, 
700?. currency ; for 1826, 950?. currency, including a sum 
not exceeding 100?. currency for a plan or plans of an hospital 
for the medical treatment of sick seamen and others coming 
from sea — a partial redemption and a partial evasion of the 
promise conveyed in the first Act on the subject. 

For several years similar grants were made of somewhat 
greater amount (1,000?. and upwards), and, in addition to 
the Emigrant Hospital at Quebec, a temporary fever hospital 
was erected at Point Levi, on the south bank of the St. Law- 
rence, opposite to Quebec, under 10 & 11 Geo. 4, c. 18, 'for 
the reception and medical treatment of such persons arriving 


in this province from seaward as shall be found labouring 
under tjrphus fever, yellow fever, scarlet fever, plague, small- 
pox or measles, and of paupers infected with any of the said 
diseases ' ; the said Act granting 750Z. currency for 1830 for 
the purposes recited. For the said establishment, a further 
grant of 750Z. currency for 1832 was made by 2 Will. 4, 
c. 15. 

A fund was created by 2 Will. 4, c. 17, for ' defraying the 
expense of providing medical assistance for sick emigrants, 
and for enabling indigent persons of that description to pro- 
ceed to the place of their destination ', by laying a poll-tax 
on emigrants from the United Ejiigdom, to be paid by the 
shipmasters, and to be equally divided between the Emigrant 
Hospital at Quebec, the Montreal General Hospital, the 
Emigrant Society of Quebec, and the Emigrant Society of 
Montreal. The tax amounted to 55. currency for each emi- 
grant coming out under the sanction of Government, and lOs. 
currency for every other ; the Act to be in force until the 
1st of May 1834. In the same session (c. 60) an aid of lOOl. 
currency was granted to the Emigrant Hospital, in addition 
to a previous aid (c. 15) of 1,500?. currency by 6 Will. 4, c. 13 ; 
the Act of 2 Will. 4, c. 17, was continued to the 1st of May 
1838, and by 1 Vict. c. 3, to May 1839. 

Mariners. — By 10 & 11 G«o. 4, c. 23, was granted a sum 
of 11,541Z. Ss. bd. currency, to be advanced in three equal 
instalments, to build ' an hospital for the reception of sick 
seamen and other indigent persons ' ; and by 3 Will. 4, c. 13, 
there was a farther grant for completing the building of 2,530?. 
currency, and an additional grant of 2,000?. currency for erect- 
ing wharves, ' in order to ensure the safety and preservation 
of said building.' 

The 6 Will. 4, c. 35, imposed a duty of a penny currency 
a ton on ' every vessel from any port out of the limits of this 
province ', the portion received in Quebec to be given to the 
Marine JHospital, and the portion received in Montreal to be 
given to the General Hospital of that city ; the Act to be in 
force until 1st May 1840. 

Various Acts have been passed to establish depots of pro- 
visions for the relief of shipwrecked mariners ; the last 
(6 Will. 4, c. 39) established a depot near Cape Chat, another 
at Magdalene River, and four depots at Anticosti, limiting 
the appropriations ' to the present year only '. 

The second class of persons who have become the object of 
legislative provision consists, as has been stated, of such 
multitudes of persons in particular localities as require aid to 



avert the consequences, whether present or prospective, of 
the alleged failure of the crops. 

For the relief of this class various measures have been 
adopted by the legislature ; the first object being to enable 
the distressed applicants to procure seed-grain and seed- 
potatoes ; the second to facilitate the supply of immediate 

The legislature attempted to accomplish the first object, 
sometimes by granting a privilege to the sellers of seed-grain 
and seed-potatoes, and sometimes by advancing loans from 
the provincial chest, to be repaid in money or in labour. 

The former mode was legalized by 45 Geo. 3, c. 5 ; 51 Geo. 3, 
c. 6 ; 57 Geo. 3, c. 1 ; 3 Will. 4, c. 2 ; 4 Will. 4, c. 3 & 4. 

The advancing of loans from the provincial chest was 
carried into effect by various Acts. The most remarkable 
of these is 57 Geo. 3, c. 12, authorizing the advance of 20,000?. 
on good security ; one -half of this sum might, however, 
according to the Act, be expended as a premium for the sale 
of seed-corn and seed-potatoes, at a rate varying from 2^. to 
Qd. per minot, a Canadian measure one -eighth larger than the 
Winchester bushel. 

The excellence of the security, and the vigilance of the 
authorities in regard to the loans, may be estimated from the 
fact, that, of all the expenditure under the Act, only one loan 
of SI. or lOl. has been repaid, and that not by the personal 
debtor, but by a cautious purchaser of the debtor's land, who 
cleared it of the mortgage for his own protection. 

With respect to the supply of seed-corn and seed-potatoes, 
it is worthy of notice, as showing the utter absence of prin- 
ciple or system, that the time limited for the sale of these 
essentials of husbandry was 25th June, in 57 Geo. 3, c. 1 ; 
and in 57 Geo. 3, c. 12, 10th May for wheat, and 20th May 
for any other kind of grain, or potatoes. 

The second object contemplated by the legislature, viz. 
facilitating the supply of immediate wants, had been indirectly 
promoted by two ordinances passed by the old Legislative 
Council, 20 Geo. 3, c. 1, and 30 Geo. 3, c. 9, respectively in- 
tituled, ' To prohibit, for a limited time, the Exportation of 
Wheat, Peas, Oats, Biscuit, Flour or Meal of any kind, also 
of Horned Cattle, and thereby to reduce the present high 
Price of Wheat and Flour ' ; and, ' To prevent, for a limited 
time, the Exportation of Biscuit, Flour or Meal of any kind ; 
also of Wheat, Peas, Barley, Rye and Oats.' 

The legislature, under the Constitutional Act, has granted 
relief, occasionally, in the form of a loan, and occasionally as 


a free gift. The most important Act on the subject was 
57 Geo. 3, c. 2, authorizing an advance of 15,000^. currency, 
to be repaid by the parties relieved, but without exacting 
security for its repayment. So far as can be ascertained, no 
portion of this money has ever been refunded. 

By the 9 Geo. 4, c. 50, a loan of 200^. currency, for the 
relief of the parish of St. Louis, Lotbiniere, was advanced on 
the credit of the Fabrique, and, failing that, on the credit of 
certain individuals on behalf of the Fabrique. 

The 4 Will. 4, c. 1, granted a free gift of about 3,000Z. 
currency, to be divided between certain specified parishes, in 
sums varying from 37Z. 105. to 5S81. lOs. 

Within the last two years, several thousand pounds have 
been apportioned among distressed parishes bordering on the 
St. Lawrence for the purpose of providing seed-corn and 
seed-potatoes, or sustaining the necessities of the inhabitants 
until harvest should bring them the means of subsistence. 
Of these advances, 2,000Z. have been given to the single 
parish of Les Eboulemens. No part of the advances has been 
repaid, nor is it at all probable that any portion ever will be. 

The fu'st step towards the correction of this vicious plan of 
relief was taken during the administration of the Earl of 
Durham. Applications for aid having been addressed to the 
Government, his Excellency caused an inquiry to be in- 
stituted into the condition of the distressed parishes on the 
St. Lawrence, with a view to the adoption of such measures 
as, by striking at the root of the evil, might save the rural 
population from sinking into a state of helpless and reckless 
pauperism. A report was made accordingly. 

It may be remarked, in- relation to the different modes of 
providing for the necessities and afflictions of the poor of 
Lower Canada, that some of the arrangements are both 
objectionable in principle and defective in practice. For 
instance, it appears that ' insane persons ', as well as sick and 
foundlings, are placed in charge of ' religious communities ' 
of females. Without intending the slightest disrespect to the 
members of these communities, whom we believe to be actu- 
ated by the best motives, we must say, that considerations of 
decorum, and regard for the proper treatment of the patients, 
alike forbid their being placed under the superintendence of 
women. It is discreditable to the province, and more especi- 
ally to its constitutional legislature, that such an absurd, 
inefficient and indecent system should have been permitted 
to continue. Lunatic asylums, conducted on the humane 
and enlightened principles which generally preside over these 


institutions in the cities of Europe, are generally wanted in 
Lower Canada. For most insane persons, there is, at present, 
no other receptacle than the common gaol. Is it not, moreover, 
objectionable, that nearly all relief (part being through com- 
missioners appointed by the Governor) should be dispensed 
to a mixed population through Catholic establishments ? 

In the supplying of seed-corn to distressed farmers, no 
pains whatever were taken, or enjoined to be taken, to ascer- 
tain that the seed was bond fide purchased or used ; thus 
a wide door seems to have been opened for collusion between 
any habitant and a favoured creditor, and to the misapplica- 
tion of such seed as was really bought. So far from guarding 
against abuses of this kind, the legislature appears to have 
encouraged them, for the quantity (40 minots of wheat, 30 of 
other grain and 20 of potatoes) was fixed and constant, with- 
out reference to the extent of the purchaser's farm, and the 
sale might take place under the earlier Acts as late as the 
1st July and 25th June ; though, in the latest Acts, the 
period for the sale of wheat extended only to 18th May, and 
for other grain and potatoes to 18th June. The obvious 
tendency of the extension of time in the older statutes was to 
produce fraud or failure of crops. To obstinate perseverance 
in the growing of wheat, which is neither suited to the soil 
nor to the severe seasons in certain districts, much of the 
distress periodically existing among the rural population is 
attributable. Yet the legislature, in providing supplies of 
seed-grain, neglected an excellent opportunity of checking 
a confessedly unprofitable mode of cultivation, by not with- 
holding the privilege in the case of seed-wheat, a privilege 
which did no more to promote private than public good, 
inasmuch as the privilege of the seller, at spring prices, would 
swallow up most of the crop at autumnal prices. 

There is reason to fear that much mismanagement prevailed 
in many of the local committees appointed generally for pur- 
poses of local relief, involving a waste which, without injustice 
and oppression, could never be recovered by the government 
from the nominal receivers of the loans. 

With respect to all such grants it may be broadly asserted, 
that, even if more judiciously and impartially regulated, they 
must inevitably retard the progress of agriculture, and lower 
the independence of the people. And in a new country, where 
there is a redundancy of uncultivated land, they form but 
a puny and fallacious palliative for the evils periodically 
induced by an ignorant application of agricultural labour. 
The distressed localities lie chiefly in the district of Quebec, 


where the frost sets in earlier than in the districts farther up 
the St. Lawrence, and where the soil, unrecruited by fallow- 
ing or manure, is unable to bear the exhaustion of continual 
crops of wheat. Now it clearly was the duty of the legis- 
lature to have taken advantage of every occasion that pre- 
sented itself to discourage the growing (or rather the sowing) 
of wheat, and to promote the cultivation of the hardier crops 
and the prosecution of the fisheries. The operation of the 
feudal laws upon agriculture ought likewise to have been con- 
sidered. The law of mills and the law of cens et rentes, for 
example, tend to encourage the exclusive cultivation of wheat ; 
on the other hand, the law of tithes and the negative law of 
duty-free distilleries, lead to a more varied agriculture, the 
former offering a premium on green crops, and the latter on 
the inferior and hardier kinds of grain. 


Complaints have been made by persons residing in the 
townships bordering on the seigniories, of the burden upon 
the inhabitants caused by the influx of Franco -Canadian 
poor. They state that township poor are never found levy- 
ing contributions on the charitable in the seigniories. In 
the District of Quebec, the parishes on the south bank of the 
St. Lawrence make a similar complaint, of the influx of the 
poor from the parishes on the north side of the river. Parochial 
and township administration of the poor is evidentlj^ wanted, 
though upon very different principles from those which prevail 
in countries where the land is overstocked with population. 


Road Officers. 
The road officers of the province are the grand-voyer and 
his deputy in each district (excepting the district of St. Francis, 
which is, in fact, subject, partly to the grand-voyer of Three 
Rivers, and partly to the grand-voyer of Montreal) ; a sur- 
veyor of roads in each parish or township, and an overseer of 
highways in each subdivision of every parish and township, 
the subdivisions never exceeding nine. The grand-voyer, 
whose office originated during the French colonial rule, is 
appointed by the Governor during pleasure. The deputy 
grand-voyer and surveyor of roads are nominated by the 
grand-voyer ; and the overseers of highways are elected by 
the people. The grand-voyer is paid by salary and fees, and 


pays his deputy according to private arrangement ; the 
surveyors and overseers are gratuitous servants of the public. 
In the two most important districts, Quebec and Montreal, 
the yearly salary of the grand -voyer is 150?. ; out of which 
he defrays postage, rent, stationery, and all the general 
expenses incidental to his office. 

The duty of the grand-voyer is to open new roads, and to 
see that the established roads are kept in good repair. His 
duty, as regards the opening of new roads, he is bound to 
discharge on the requisition of any one interested person ; 
the requisitionist or requisitionists being liable for the grand- 
voyer's claim for fees and travelling expenses. Whether he 
grant or reject the prayer of the requisition, that officer may 
be presumed to be altogether disinterested in his decision, 
a presumption which is requisite to justify the judicial des- 
potism of his office. As to the extent of the grand-voyer's 
judicial power, a degree of doubt, it is true, has existed ; some 
maintaining that an appeal to the quarter sessions may open 
the merits of the case, and others contending that the court 
can take cognizance merely of the form and technical accuracy 
of the proces verbal. The highest legal authority has decided 
in favour of the latter construction of the Act under which the 
grand-voyer exercises his authority. 

In order to discharge the duty of seeing that the estab- 
lished roads are kept in good repair, the grand-voyer, after 
public notice being duly given, is bound to make ' annual 
circuit through the highways leading from point to point 
within his district ', and ' to examine and inquire whether 
the surveyors and overseers duly execute their several offices, 
and in default thereof to prosecute them, or either of them, 
for neglect.' 

This yearly tour of inspection is made in a very superficial 
and imperfect manner. According to the evidence of Mr. 
Panet, grand-voyer for the district of Montreal, there are 
portions of his district which have never been visited by him- 
self or his deputy. Mr. Panet adduced the strong plea of 
impracticability in defence of this omission, adding, that the 
whole expense of travelling would fall on a very inadequate 
salary, subject already to many deductions for official charges. 
Apart from the latter consideration, it is too much to expect 
that the grand-voyer, even with the aid of a deputy, can 
complete an official annual * circuit ' of the roads in a district 
so extensive as Montreal. 

The surveyor of roads in a parish or township is the grand- 
voyer's representative therein, as to the repairing of roads, &c. 


The overseers of highways support the same character in 
their respective sections of parishes or to^\^lships ; though, as 
will hereafter be set forth more fully, they have also, in some 
respects, a collective or qwisi corporate existence. 


The public highways are of two kinds — front roads and bye- 

The front roads are those that run between two ranges of 
' concessions ', or through the front range on the banks of 
rivers, and thus, generally speaking, they cross the breadth 
of every farm at right angles to its length. As the seigniorial 
farms are usually 90 arpents in extent, in the proportion of 
ten breadths to one length, and as the arpent is equivalent to 
3,600 square yards, every proprietor's share of front road is 
180 yards French measure. But, in toA\Tiship farms, which 
approach to a square form, every settler's share of front road 
is a good deal larger, in proportion to his quantity of land. 
Such is the general system of front roads ; but there are 
numerous important exceptions. Hills, bridges, marshes, and 
all portions of more than average difficulty, which are pecu- 
liarly numerous on the undulating surface of the townships, 
are worked by joint labour ; the grand-voyer, by his proces 
verbal, designating all those who, on the ground of a common 
interest, ought to contribute a share. Through all unconceded 
land, too, and all uncultivated land in possession of the 
original Crown grantee, the highways are made and repaired 
by joint labour of the parties to whom ' the road is useful ', 
that is, by the persons who are obliged to pass over it in going 
to church, market, &c. 

The bye-roads, or as they may be most appositely named, 
the ' cross roads ', are altogether made and repaired by joint 

With respect to the prescribed dimensions of the public 
highways, every front road is required by law to be 30 feet 
wide, with a ditch on either side three feet wide ; every bye- 
road, besides having ditches of like extent, is required to be 
20 feet wide. 

Fence Viewers. — By 6 Will. 4, c. 56, s. 27, which will expire 
on the 1st of May 1845, the freeholders of each parish or town- 
ship are empowered to elect inspectors of fences and ditches, 
in the same manner and to the same number as overseers of 

By the 47th section of the same Act, a majority of the 
persons interested in the clearing or opening of any water- 


course (cours d^eau) may cause the work to be done by contract, 
each person interested contributing his share in money, 
a power analogous to that which, by the existing law, is 
reposed in a majority of overseers, with respect to joint labour 
on bridges, and similar to that which, by an expired law, was 
vested in the majority of parties interested with respect to 
joint labour on roads and bridges generally. 

In several particulars the fence -viewers are invested with 
more important functions than overseers of highways, or even 
surveyors of roads. Every inspector of fences and ditches 
exercises, like the grand-voyer, judicial as well as adminis- 
trative powers, being authorized singly, and sometimes in 
conjunction with one or more, to frame proces verbaux with 
regard to joint labour, subject, however, to the revision of two 
justices of the peace for the county in which the inspector acts. 
The inspectors are, in fact, official experts, and, as such, are 
allowed a recompense for the loss of time at the rate of 6d. 
currency per hour — a provision which, as it tends to induce 
popular vigilance, goes far to remedy the evils incidental to 
the non-responsibility of these officers to any central power. 

Road Funds. 

There is no law to authorize the exaction of any amount of 
annual revenue for the maintenance of roads, or other works 
of utility in the rural districts ; charges which, in England, 
are provided for out of the county rates, have been defrayed 
in Lower Canada out of the provincial treasury. Large sums, 
the disbursement of which has been intrusted to unsalaried, 
but not always uninterested, commissioners, nominated by the 
Governor generally, on the recommendation of members of 
the legislature, have been appropriated to the opening of 
internal communications. Mr. Bouchette, surveyor-general 
of Lower Canada, in his Topographical Dictionary of the 
province, gives the following account of the sums voted for 
the formation and repair of roads and canals from 1814 to 

£. s. d. 

From 1814 to 1827, both inclusive, 14 years (in- 
cluding 25,000^ for the Welland Canal, Upper 

Canada) 284,172 - - 

For 1828, 1829, 1830 100,000 - - 

£.384.172 - - 

The heavy expenditure on road-making has not produced 
corresponding results. At the present day there is hardly in 

1352.3 N 


the whole province what an Englishman would call a good 
line of road, while, even in places where from the favourable 
character of the soil a moderate portion of well-directed 
labour might afford excellent highways, the roads are (save 
in summer, when they are simply bad) truly and absolutely 

Charges of jobbing, and unfairly directing lines of road 
through their own property, have been made against the com- 
missioners for applying the provincial grants, and, judging 
by the general complexion of Canadian management in like 
matters, probably not without cause. Many of the grants 
themselves were objectionable on the ground of their being 
voted for local instead of general improvements. The direct 
tendency of such appropriations is to introduce a corrupting 
influence into the legislature ; the majority having it in their 
power to withhold from the minority grants for improvements 
in the districts they represent, and thereby depreciate them 
in the estimation of their rustic constituents. That the 
majority of the late House of Assembly did stoop to this 
description of party tactics is borne out by the testimony of 
some of its most respectable members of Canadian birth, 
who have declared that, because they declined voting with 
Mr. Papineau's majority, they found it impossible to obtain 
grants for any local object, however unimpeachable in its 

It may be observed, that whenever a highway requires 
widening, or whenever it may be necessary to construct a 
bridge for general as distinguished from purely local purposes, 
there might arise a question as to the propriety of granting 
provincial aid, but even then aid ought only to be given in 
connexion with the permanent establishment of a turnpike, 
so as to provide a fund for the preservation of the provincial 
work, and for the payment, if possible, of interest on the 
original advances. For lack of such an appendage, provincial 
grants have sometimes been pleas for local oppression. By 
the 2d Will. 4, c. 44, s. 21, for instance, it was enacted with 
respect to certain roads in the vicinity of Quebec, Three 
Rivers and Montreal, ' that no road in the said country dis- 
tricts or banlieue, which shall have been macadamised, shall 
be held to have been in a sufiicient state of repair, unless such 
road shall have been kept in repair in the same manner, and 
with materials and quality at least equal to that of the materials 
with which the same was macadamised.' To constrain the 
parties, who by the road laws are bound to repair the high- 
ways, to maintain them according to the terms of this Act 



must appear harsh and unjust to those who are acquainted 
with provincial affairs. The natural and equitable mode of 
keeping up the roads referred to would have been by turn- 
pikes. A few good turnpike roads fairly introduced in the 
neighbourhood of Quebec and Montreal would be invaluable 
as models for imitation. Suburban roads are as frequently 
used by residents of towns as by country people, and it is 
only by exacting tolls that the former can be assessed for 
their legitimate share of contribution to the maintenance of 
these roads. A turnpike was tried with success on the Lachine 
Road at Montreal, and after much opposition, the same 
system has been adopted and approved in Upper Canada. 

Amendment of Road Law. 

The existing law of roads and bridges is as old as 1796. If 
age, therefore, is a test of excellence, the continuance of this 
law is a presumption in its favour. But the repeated attempts 
of the provincial legislature to remedy the admitted defects 
of the road system by temporary enactments, prove that the 
law of 36 Geo. 3, c. 9, has not been retained in consequence 
of its intrinsic excellence and superior applicability to the 
wants of the colony. 

With the laudable view of facilitating improvement and 
lessening expense, the Act 2 Will. 4, c. 44, of the provincial 
legislature authorized the freeholders in any parish or town- 
ship, or extra-parochial place, to elect a road commissioner, 
who should within the limits of such parish, township or 
extra-parochial place, have all the powers heretofore vested 
in the grand-voyer or his deputy (the powers hereinafter 
reserved for the commissioners of the county, or the majority 
of them, alone excepted). According to provincial custom, 
it was a temporary Act, and expired on the 1st of May 1835. 
Now to submit a temporary law to the voluntary acceptance 
or rejection of the people was to divest it even of the character 
of an experiment. But the measure itself was defective ; it 
contained no provision for the possible case of only one com* 
missioner being elected for a county ; neither did it create 
the checks and securities requisite for the working of a novel 
administrative machinery among a rural population deficient 
in elementary instruction, and inexperienced in the manage- 
ment of local affairs. The Act, in one word, conveyed too 
much license to the people, and reserved too small a share of 
restraining and correcting influence to central authority. 

N 2 


Digest of Evidence respecting the Operation of the 
Law of Roads and Bridges. 

Edmund William Bomer Antrohus, Esq., Grand Voyer of the 
District of Quebec. 

A letter dated 6tli October 1838, of which the following are 
extracts, was addressed by Mr. Antrobus to the Assistant 
Commissioners, explanatory of the duties of the grand-voyer, 
and the operation of the road laws : — 

' The Act for making, repairing and altering the highways 
and bridges in this province, now in force, was passed in the 
year 1796. By this Act, the grand-voyers have the direction 
&c. &c. in their districts. 

' The grand-voyer may appoint a deputy. He may cause 
lands to be cleared, and, in case of heavy works or repairs, 
may call for the assistance of a parish. He also decides dis- 
putes concerning labour, &c. &c., and distributes the work 
to be done on winter roads. It is his duty to lay out parishes 
in divisions, for each of which an overseer is elected by the 
parishioners. He appoints a surveyor of roads in each parish, 
seigniory or township, also the overseer in default of election, 
and when vacancies by death or otherwise occur. He (the 
grand-voyer) is obliged to make an annual tour of inspection, 
when it is his business to fine his officers for neglect of duty. 
The habitans, generally, wait for the grand-voyer's annual 
visit, to lay their opinions before him, to whose opinion they 
bow, and thus many lawsuits and heartburnings are avoided. 
It has been my good fortune to settle hundreds of these 
squabbles, and to send home as friends the parties concerned, 
who, if left to the tender mercies of either the avocats de 
campagne or of the city, might have fought their battles until 
their means were exhausted. 

' When it is necessary to change an old road, or open a new 
one, &c., a requite is presented to the grand-voyer, who, there- 
upon, calls a public meeting, and, after having heard the 
parties for and against the prayer contained in the peti- 
tion, he proceeds to examine the premises personally ; and he 
afterwards decides upon the line of road to be made, and 
draws his proces verbal by which the road is described, and 
the persons named who are appointed to make and keep the 
same in repair. This act is subsequently placed before the 
court of quarter sessions to be ratified. Persons not satisfied 
with the grand-voyer's decision have an opportunity to file 
their opposition to the proces verbal before this court, which 
may reject or ratify the same after hearing the parties ; but 


the magistrates who compose the court have only a right to 
inquire and decide on points of form, and the court is little 
else, in matters touching the proces verbaux of the grand- 
voyer, than a court of record. 

' The above are among the principal features of the Road 
Act, which, with some amendments much required in con- 
sequence of the increase of the population, but which, as you 
are not likely to amend that Act, it is unnecessary here to 
mention, I suppose will answer the wants of the people in the 
road way for the next quarter of a century, perhaps, unless 
the schoolmaster should be very busy indeed. 

' In 1832, the Honourable John Neilson, being then a 
Member of the House of Assembly and President of the Road 
Committee, introduced a Bill, which was passed, intituled 
" An Act to amend the Act (the above 36 Geo. 3, c. 9) ", the 
object of which was to give the habitans the management of 
their road affairs, without consulting the officer of the govern- 
ment, namely, the grand-voyer. By this Act the inhabitants 
of each parish were authorized to meet, and if the majority 
of the proprietors present at such meeting chose (it was not 
compulsory upon them), they might elect a road commis- 
sioner, to whom all the powers vested in the grand-voyer were 
to be transferred. The duration of this Act was limited to 
1835. Mr. Neilson, when he introduced this, his favourite 
measure, in the House of Assembly, was, as many others 
were at the time, convinced that the period had arrived when 
the habitans might have the management of their own affairs, 
and might do without a grand-voyer in the settlement of 
their road concerns ; but, before the expiration of the Act, 
Mr. Neilson having inquired into the way in which it operated, 
became convinced that the time had not arrived, but that, in 
fact, the new law did not work well. I believe that Mr. Neilson 
is now quite aware that the period has not arrived when the 
Canadians may be left to settle their affairs. I have not, at 
least I do not recollect having met with a single person of 
respectability, and who has had the good of his country at 
heart, since 1832, who expressed himself in favour of the 
change ; and, of all parties I have seen — and I have seen the 
most respectable and most independent — I know of none 
who did not rejoice that the said Act had expired. 

' Among the persons elected {vice the grand-voyers) many 
could not sign their names. I have now in my office (which 
was constituted one of record by the new law) proces verbaux 

to which the X of my substitute is affixed. I mention this 


circumstance to show that my countrymen (for I also am 
a Canadian) are not sufficiently educated to be entrusted with 
the management of their affairs. In most parishes are to be 
found a doctor, a notary, and perhaps a couple of avocats de 
campagne, who possess learning, that is, who can contrive to 
read their names when they have written them ; but the great 
majority of the inhabitants of Lower Canada are totally 
uneducated. It would therefore be cruel, I think, to invest 
them with powers which, the chances are, would be exercised 
against their interests.' 

Mr. Antrobus, in his examination before the commissioners, 
stated that he had succeeded his father in the office of grand- 
voyer, which he had now filled for 20 years. Before the 
introduction of the Road Commissioners Act by Mr. Neilson, 
petitions had been presented to the legislature, complaining 
of partiality on the part of the grand- voyers, and praying 
for an alteration in the Road Laws. The grand-voyers could 
have no motives for partiality, not being interested in the 
localities where their duties called them, nor mixed up in the 
affairs of the inhabitants. The real grievance at the time w^as 
the amount of the grand-voyer's fees, and to lighten these 
was one of the objects of Mr. Neilson's Act. Had that Act 
been permanent, it w^ould have produced general dissatisfac- 
tion. It was adopted pretty generally in the townships, but 
very sparingly in the seigniories. It worked well in places 
where competent officers were chosen, and it w^ould be more 
convenient than the present system, if proper persons could 
be found to execute it ; but the difficulty is to find educated 
and disinterested men. The habitans will not place confidence 
in each other. In the Quebec district there is no complaint 
as to any needless delay in the working of the present Road 
Law. There is a deputy, who acts for the grand-voyer in each 
district. He is no additional expense to the country, being 
paid by private arrangement with the chief, who nominates 
him. The number of deputies ought to be increased ; and 
thus, by assigning them judiciously to the different divisions 
of a district, the travelling charges might be greatly reduced. 
Were a sufficient number of deputies appointed, the grand- 
voyer would be enabled to remain, as he ought to do, more 
constantly at his office, to supply the information required by 
the habitans. The yearly salary of the grand-voyer for the 
district of Quebec is 150?., in addition to which he is entitled 
to fees on every act of office. Out of these emoluments he is 
called upon to defray all office charges. The fees are frequently 
not collected, owing to the poverty of the people. Were it 


not for the grand-voyer's expenses, new roads would be 
frequently opened in places where they do not exist. In 
appointing surveyors of highways, he (Mr. Antrobus) has 
usually deferred to the wishes of the people, where the party 
recommended was likely to be efficient. The overseers of 
highways could very well execute the duty of fence -inspectors. 
The surveyors are frequently remiss in prosecuting for neglect 
of road labour, from the apprehension that, when their neigh- 
bour's turn of service comes, they may retaliate their official 
vigilance on themselves. 

In Lower Canada there will never be a good road until 
a rate is established for maintaining the ' King's highway '. 

When the proprietor of a lot is not forthcoming, those to 
whom the road in front is ' useful ' are obliged to keep it in 
repair. This is unjust, and the law ought to be amended -by 
taxing the land for the maintenance of the road, and, if need 
be, selling it for the purpose. On the cross roads, people 
come willingly from a distance to work ; and if they refuse, 
the surveyors employ labourers, and sue the recusants for 
the payment. 

The court of quarter sessions, as at present constituted, is 
totally inadequate to determine appeals on proces verbaux ; 
most of the magistrates being altogether unacquainted with 
law, and some of them mean, dependent and illiterate. Paid 
professional chairmen ought to preside at quarter sessions, 
and then these courts would be competent to their duties. 
There are magistrates in the province who cannot write their 
own names. Formerly there were professional chairmen of 
quarter sessions, but the House of Assembly, it is said, from 
political dislike to the parties filling the office, caused them 
to be dismissed. The power of nominating the superior local 
officers should be vested in the central executive. Pure 
elective institutions are not suited to the province, as, owing 
to the jealousy of the habitans, fit and respectable men will 
not be chosen by them. At the same time, it must be admitted, 
that the grand-voyer system is a source of grievance. The 
powers of the surveyors might with advantage be extended, 
and all payments to the grand-voyer equalized, the fees 
diminished, and the salary increased. 

The opening of a road at Ramouski (about 200 miles from 
Quebec) ought to cost no more than opening a road at Beau- 
port. The Road Commissioners Act might have suited the 
townships better than the old system, the great comparative 
extent of the townships not being favourable to the working 
of the present Road Law. Lands cleared or in cultivation 


ought to be assessed according to extent, and not according 
to their positive value. Wild lands ought also to be assessed, 
of course, more lightly than cultivated lands. If wild lands 
are worth little or nothing, let the sale of them be the only 
penalty on the proprietor for non-payment of rates ; but it is 
most unjust to constrain settlers to make roads which add 
to the value of wild lands, and yet leave those wild lands 
untaxed. Among the mass of the population, it will be impos- 
sible to raise a local assessment, unless payment be made 
compulsory. The people in the townships are fitted for a more 
advanced system of local administration than the inhabitants 
of the seigniories. 

No respect will be attached to the courts of quarter sessions 
until they have paid professional chairmen of learning and 
integrity. Being ignorant of law, the magistrates are liable 
to be bullied by the lawyers, and there is no assurance of 
their arri^dng at correct decisions or deciding upon proper 
grounds. No unprofessional man likes to act as chairman of 
quarter sessions ; he has himself remained absent from the 
court rather than act in this capacity. The magistrates at 
quarter sessions sometimes decide upon the merits of a proces 
verbal, which is a usurped authority, and absurd in its exercise, 
the court not having the power to examine witnesses on oath 
in the matter at issue. This power is vested in the grand- 
voyer, who also judges of the affair at issue on the spot. 
The Court of King's Bench has decided against the assumed 
authority of the magistrates in regard to the proces verbal. 
Perhaps an authority of this description might be advan- 
tageously conferred on county courts, accompanied by some 
modification of the duties of grand-voyer. The more able 
members of the magistracy have become disgusted by the 
appointment of inferior persons to the bench, and conse- 
quently have grown remiss in the execution of their duty. 

Hughes Heney, Esq., Grand Voyer of the District of Three 


Mr. Heney is of opinion that, in establishing a system of 
rural municipalities, it would be advisable to preserve an 
efiicient central authority, were it only for the keeping of the 
road archives. He fears that if the control of municipal affairs 
were committed entirely to the country people, it would give 
rise to favouritism ; besides, a sufficient number of persons 
could not be found competent to discharge the functions that 
might be assigned them. The cost of a proces verbal for open- 



ing a new road in the district of Three Rivers is about 121., 
exchisive of the fees of the clerk of the peace, which amount 
to about II. 155. The magistrates have not, in general, 
sufficient intelligence to qualify them for ' homologating ' 
proces verhaux. By Mr. Neilson's Act, the proems verhaux were 
to be deposited with the nearest magistrate ; after whose 
decease, copies could not have been obtained. 

There is no legal authority to authorize the grand-voyer 
to demand any part of his fees in advance. The fees are very 
badly paid ; so many small sums being due by poor persons. 
He (Mr. Heney) has very often lost his fees, or a great part 
of them ; even when the proces verhaux have been homolo- 
gated. He has only, on two occasions, been paid his fees in 
full. When a requisition has been made to the grand-voyer, 
it is the custom to pay him one -third of his fees. 

The greatest grievance now experienced under the grand- 
voyer system would be removed by the appointment of 
deputies residing in the districts for which they may be 
called upon to act. By this means, the charges would be 
equalized, instead of falling, as they now do, more heavily 
on the poorer and more remote districts. He (Mr. Heney) 
has a deputy in the townships ; were it not so, the expense 
would be unreasonably heavy. In the district of Three Rivers, 
there are in fact two deputies ; although the existing law 
authorizes the appointment of one only. He wishes that he 
had the power of appointing another. It is possible that the 
St. Francis district does not fall legally within the road juris- 
diction of Three Rivers, Some of the townships of the district 
are under the superintendence of the grand-voyer of Montreal. 

The yearly salary of the grand-voyer of Three Rivers is 
90?., out of which he has to provide for all office charges, 
postage, and the expenses of his annual circuit. The gross 
amount of his fees for the last year was about 140Z. The 
receipt of fees does, to a certain extent, give an interest to 
the grand-voyer, which might prove prejudicial to justice. 
When the roads are contiguous, and the locality poor (the 
same parties being interested), Mr. Heney has united the 
different roads applied for — ^amounting sometimes to 16 — in 
one proces verbal, and thereby greatly diminishing the ex- 

The habitans could not, he thinks, be induced to tax them- 
selves for municipal purposes, or to pay turnpike tolls. They 
would rather make a circuit of leagues than pay a turnpike. 
They would not consent to give a money payment, instead 
of labour value to a greater amount ; time and labour being 


in their situation of comparatively little moment. They have 
not assessed themselves for schools or gaols, as they were 
invited to do by law. They are, however, bound by law to 
build and repair their churches, and they pay pew-rents in 
money besides. 

Unoccupied lands should be made liable for the maintenance 
of roads and bridges. The wood upon them, when required, 
should be taken for this purpose, and if necessary, part of the 
land sold to pay the share of the road expenses, with which, 
in equity, the property might stand chargeable. 

The law, as at present, does not authorize payment to the 
owners of uncleared land through which roads may pass. 
This sometimes operates unfairly, as, for instance, in the 
neighbourhood of towns a road may pass through a ' sugary ', 
which is a valuable description of property. A discretional 
power in this and other points ought to be reposed in the 
grand- voyer. The road regulations are too imperative. The 
grand-voyer, or some parallel authority, ought to have the 
power of adapting the construction of roads to the character 
of the soil. The law enforces the making of ditches of a cer- 
tain width, although ditches are frequently not required at 
all ; no regulation ought to be made legally absolute, except 
that which prescribes the breadth of the road. 

Pierre Louis Panel, Esq., Grand Voyer of Montreal. 

There are about thirty-four townships in the district of the 
grand-voyer of Montreal. There are also three townships in 
the district of St. Francis under his control ; Stanstead, one 
of them, is 90 miles from Montreal. The deputy of the grand- 
voyer of Three Rivers is likewise deputy of the Montreal 
grand-voyer in these townships. Mr. Panet has never visited 
them in his ' annual circuit ', not having time to do so. 

Fees are regulated by tariff, approved at court of quarter 
sessions. The Montreal tariff is different from that of Quebec. 
The average cost of a proces verbal in the Montreal district 
is from III. to 151. currency, exclusive of the fees paid to the 
clerk of the peace. The fees of the grand-voyer are very 
badly paid ; he (Mr. Panet) believes he does not receive one- 
half of his taxed charges. His yearly salary is 150?., out of 
which he defrays all the expenses of his office. Is of opinion 
that the fees should be relinquished, reserving only so much 
as would stimulate deputies to the discharge of their duty, 
and prevent idle applications from the country people. By 
a rule of the court of quarter sessions, the grand-voyer of 
Montreal has a right to claim four shillings a day towards 



travelling expenses (going and returning) before he starts. 
The power should be vested in the grand-voyer of appointing 
a greater number of deputies. His (Mr. Panet's) deputy 
resides in Montreal. The townships of the Ottawa are in the 
Montreal district, but so distant that the grand-voyer has 
never had an application from them, neither has he visited 
them in his annual circuit. The Act giving to grand- voyers 
the right of appointing more than one deputy expired in 1825. 
K the number of deputies were increased, the amount of fees 
received by the grand-voyer would be proportionally lessened. 
The gross amount of the fees received annually for the district 
of Montreal may average about 300?. The Road Commis- 
sioners Act was put into operation chiefly in the townships. 
In the parishes of some counties there was not a sufficient 
number of magistrates to ' homologate ' the proces verbaux. 
About one -half of the parishes in the Montreal district elected 
officers under the Act. Has heard that the opening of an 
extraordinary number of roads was legally approved when 
this Act came into operation. For example, in 1834 and part 
of 1835, 52 new roads were sanctioned in the county of Beau- 
harnois. Mr. Brown, of Beauharnois, represented at the time 
to his brother magistrates, that these roads were too numerous 
to be completed, but the bench out -voted him. The grand- 
voyer's emoluments are in no degree affected by his accept- 
ance or rejection of a petition, and whether he complies with 
or rejects its prayer, he frames his proces verbal. 

Large sums of money have, since 1815, been granted for 
road-making by the provincial legislature. In the first 
instance, the grants were placed at the disposal of commis- 
sioners appointed by the government, who were empowered 
to lay out their roads according to their own discretion, and 
expend the money on them. Great complaints of mismanage- 
ment and non-appropriation arose, and, subsequently, a better 
system was adopted, by which the road for which the money 
was granted was especially designated, and vouchers required 
for accounts. The money thus granted was chiefly expended 
in the townships ; the settlers there being so much impeded 
by the crown and clergy reserves as to feel necessitated to 
call upon the government to aid in opening roads. 

Under Mr. Neilson's Act, although the commissioners had 
no fees, the expenses were occasionally greater than under 
the old law. There were various disbursements to make, as, 
for instance, for the payment of a sworn surveyor and a notary 
to draw up the proces verbal and furnish copies thereof ; none 
of which charges were exacted from the applicants under the 


grand-voyer system. In the townships, which sometimes did 
not employ a sworn surveyor, there was a saving, but little 
was gained in the seigniorial districts. The commissioners 
did very little in the fifty parishes which adopted the Act, 
owing to the difficulty of procuring magistrates to homo- 
logate the proces verbaux, and the short duration of the law. 
Only 30 or 40 proces verbaux proceeded from these parishes ; 
the remainder, of 150, for the Montreal district, were from the 
townships. There are about a hundred parishes in the district 
of Montreal. 

Mr. Panet is of opinion that enlarged municipal powers 
might be entrusted to officers popularly elected, so as to unite 
in the same body the superintendence of roads, fences, pounds, 
water-courses, &c., preserving, however, so much of the grand- 
voyer system as would leave the opening of new roads to 
officers independent of the localities interested, and free from 
such personal ties as might be supposed to influence their 

The habitans would be very reluctant to pay a regular 
annual tax ; but they would not object to be assessed for any 
necessary and clearly-understood object as occasionally might 
arise, such as the repair of roads or the construction of bridges. 
It would be quite practicable, indeed it has been the custom 
in many cases, to repair bye-roads by contract, levying the 
amount expended by assessment. This practice is a con- 
venience to farmers, who might otherwise, when living at 
a distance from the works, be put to considerable trouble and 
expense in contributing personal labour. 

It would be well to exact money contributions in all cases, 
except for the front roads or highways ; and for these, the 
kind of contributions, whether of money or of labour, might 
be left optional. The Act of 1825 was framed with this view ; 
but the intention of its authors was frustrated by the clumsi- 
ness of the machinery employed. 

A portion of the provincial funds might perhaps be usefully 
appropriated in laying out great lines of road, under the 
direction of government engineers, and taxing the people for 
their support, in proportion to the local advantage they 
derived from them. 

The apportionment of money payments is made by over- 
seers. It would much facilitate their labours, and promote 
an equitable assessment, if the overseers of parishes or to^\Tl- 
ships were authorized to keep a register of the lands or rate- 
able 'property. 

Much inconvenience is occasioned by the postponement of 



[jroces verbaux from one quarter sessions to another. Paid 
professional chairmen are absolutely essential to the efficiency 
of courts of quarter sessions, and power should be given to 
magistrates to decide postponed proces verbaux in special 
sessions, to avoid the delay of three months, which, in the 
climate of Canada, must materially retard improvement. 

Jacques Viger, Esq., Surveyor of Highways for the Parish and 
City of Montreal. 

Mr. Viger, in the country part of his district, exercises an 
authority similar to that of the grand- voyer, assisted by nine 
overseers or sub -inspectors of highways. In the city, by 
a clause of the Road Act, the surveyor of the highways is 
inspector also ; so that Mr. Viger, the inspector in Montreal, 
bears the same relation to Mr. Viger as surveyor that the 
overseers bear to him as grand-voyer in the country part oi 
his district. In his character of inspector, he is called upon to 
superintend the execution of the work prescribed or suggested 
by himself as surveyor, and his city duties are so multifarious, 
that an overseer named by the magistrates really discharges 
the duty of inspector. When the opening of a new street is 
deemed necessary, a petition to that effect is forwarded to the 
magistrates, who, if favourable to its prayer, call upon the 
sheriff to form a jury of 12 to be sworn before them at special 
sessions, and to report upon their oath whether the desired 
improvement be useful and necessary. If the jury report 
in the affirmative, the magistrates are empowered to treat 
and agree with the proprietors of the ground through which 
the street is to pass. If there be a difference as to terms, 
the matter is left to arbitrators, whose judgment is final ; the 
losing party paying costs of arbitration. After the plan has 
been adopted, it is the duty of the surveyor of highways to 
trace the line of the road or street. 

In the construction of a sewer or bridge for the city, the 
surveyor proceeds by proces verbal^ which is submitted to the 
magistrates, notice being given to the parties interested to 
appear to offer their objections within eight days. The magis- 
trates decide in the same way as in the case of an appeal 
against the grand-voyer's proces verbal. After the proces 
verbal has obtained the sanction of the court, the surveyor 
of highways passes from the character of grand-voyer into 
that of road-inspector, and proceeds to superintend the 
erection of the work thus approved by the court. 

Mr. Viger's income is derived partly from salary, and partly 


from fees, as regulated by tariff. His salary is 200/. a year, 
payable out of the ' road fund '. His fees have declined to 
a small amount, his country district being limited to a parish, 
for which proces verbaux are now rarely required ; the roads 
demanded by public concurrence having been already opened, 
and new streets and sewers being seldom wanted for the city. 
Mr. Viger thinks favourably of the turnpike system as 
regards the maintenance of highways, more especially in the 
neighbourhood of large towns. The bye-roads he would leave 
to be maintained by the farmers by contract, as recom- 
mended by Mr. Panet, — a practice which has been voluntarily 
adopted by the people apart from legal enactment. The road 
from Montreal to La Chine was 16 years turnpike, and paid 
expenses, and gave satisfaction. The farmers in the immediate 
vicinity of a large town are not able to maintain the roads, 
nor is it fair that they should be constrained to do so. After 
the La Chine road again came under the old system of manage- 
ment, and ceased to be turnpike, a rich and educated man 
residing on the line returned to the obsolete and defective 
system of repairing his portion of the road, a system which 
had been relinquished for 16 years, — a proof of the obstinate 
adherence to ancient usages which prevails even among the 
better class of persons in the province. 

Joseph Bouchette, Esq., Surveyor-general of the Province. 

Mr. Bouchette stated that the grand-voyer system had 
never been popular ; it was both tedious and expensive. 
There ought, he conceived, to be a new municipal subdivision 
of the province, and proper officers assigned to the different 
localities for executing the duties expressly assigned to the 

Poor settlers in the townships are hardly dealt with in being 
obliged to make new roads through large blocks of unculti- 
vated lands. The holders of those lands ought, in equity, to 
be called upon to contribute to the roads. A precedent for 
exacting road duty from absentee proprietors had been set in 
Upper Canada, where the remedy, Mr, Bouchette alleges, has 
proved effectual. 

Paul Holland Knowlton, Esq., j.p. 

IVIr. Knowlton, of Brome township, county of Shefford, is 
a colonel of militia, and a member of the special council, under 
the administration of his Excellency Sir John Colborne. 

In a written communication, Mr. Knowlton submitted the 



following general suggestions to the commissioners. His own 
words arc quoted : — 

' First. It appears to me that a new subdivision of counties 
should take place ; and, if not done by some such power as 
that with which you are invested, it never can be done ; for 
there are those among us, and they are not few, whose local 
interests mil be, or they will fancy them to be, affected by 
the first subdivision ; and who would move heaven and earth 
sooner than suffer any loss of property, or of supposed con- 
sequence. These considerations must all be set aside ; and 
the only question to ask is, What is best and safest for us as 
British subjects ? 

' Second. Give us county courts, or establish new districts. 
In either case let there be a competent jurisdiction, with 
a respectable law judge, or with circuit judges, as may be 
deemed best, bringing the court as near the door of the suitor 
as possible. 

' Third. Abolish the grand-voyer system of road-making, 
which is illegal under the English tenure, and give us power, 
in each township, to alter and execute every thing pertaining 
to highways ; matters can be better managed, and at far less 
expense, by those who have the roads to make than by the 

Mr. KjioAvlton, being examined by the commissioners, stated 
that the expense and delay of the grand voyer system were the 
subject of much complaint ; it was altogether unsuited to the 
condition of the people in the townships. The grand-voyer, 
unless specially called upon, had never made an official visit 
to the townships. The people of those localities are perfectly 
competent to manage their common affairs, and all road 
business might be left to them with great advantage. Their 
fitness had been proved by the experiment under the Road 
Commissioners Act ; but that Act was defective, inasmuch 
as the commissioners were bound by the old road laws, which 
were ill adapted to the townships. Without a new and com- 
plete subdivision of the province, no improved system of local 
institutions can be efficiently established. Such a subdivision 
must be matter of imperial legislation, as, if left to provincial 
arrangement, private interests would interfere injuriously. 

Mr. Macbean, of De Rouville Mountain, in the county of 
Rouville, thus alludes to the road system in a letter addressed 
to the commissioners, bearing date September the 10th, 
1838 : — * I beg you will give your particular attention to the 
present manner of repairing roads. I conceive the system to 
be most objectionable. The duties upon the overseers are 


oppressive, and quite unrequited by remuneration ; while the 
practice of giving personal labour upon the road, exerted as 
it is at your own discretion, and upon a particular spot, con- 
tributes reaUy nothing either to its present or paramount 

' At their own convenience, after seed-time, they turn out 
at summons of their surveyor, and throw clods upon the road 
until it is almost impassable for a few weeks after. When it 
has become beaten down, it is no more looked after, and the 
remaining or subsequently formed ruts are left unfilled during 
the whole season. Oftentimes bridges are broken down or 
planks removed from their covering, and they remain for 
weeks unrepaired. The bridge over the Huron or St. J. 
Baptiste river, above Point Olivier, which fell down last 
winter, has not yet been repaired or rebuilt, and no one seems 
to say it is wrong or knows any thing about it. These things 
penetrate a person from " the old country " to the quick, 
and continually stick to and torment him. They are really 
a never-ending source of chagrin.' 

Mr. Henry May, of Verdun, on the Lower Lachine road, 
near Montreal, after calling attention to the * imperfect and 
vexatious manner in which the roads of the district are made 
and repaired, and to the dangerous state in which they are 
for the greater part of the year,' urges the necessity of 
establishing ' turnpike roads, under trusts or commissioners, 
to the principal outlets to Upper and Lower Canada '. ' This ', 
adds Mr. May, ' would not only relieve the agriculturists 
situated on these roads from vexatious interference, at a time 
when their attention ought to be directed to putting in their 
crops and harvesting the same, for the short period of the 
year in which agricultural operations can be carried on, but 
would likewise greatly improve the entrance to the city of 

Mr. Charles Howard and others, proprietors and landholders 
of the parishes of Charlesbourg and Beauport, in the neigh- 
boxirhood of Quebec, state, in a memorial praying for relief, 
that the mode of giving notice under the Road Act is ex- 
tremely inconvenient to persons not belonging to the Catholic 
faith nor residing in the vicinity of the parish churches. The 
memorialists also complain of the custom of partitioning off 
small patches of roads for them to keep in repair at a distance 
from their houses, and profess a willingness to repair a larger 
portion of road adjacent to their places of residence. Another 
grievance to which they advert is the practice of overseers, 
who, when difficulties arise between them and the farmers, 


have recourse to advocates, and issue summonses from the 
police office, ' thereby heaping ruinous expenses on them, and 
injuring them with impunity.' They pray for a less expensive 
and more summary mode of trial, so that the penalty may 
be proportionate to the offence. 

Mr. Charles Houle and others, inhabitants of the township 
of Stanfold, Somerset and Nicolet rivers, in a memorial pray- 
ing for the grant of public money for the opening of a road, 
represent that they have been five years residing in these 
districts, and number about 200 families, and that they have 
no means of communication from their houses to the highway 
by which they might convey their potash to a market. 

David Ghisholm, esq., formerly clerk of the peace at Three 
Rivers, thus describes the effect of the present road system in 
promoting litigation among the country people : — 

* In the general and special sessions of the peace, and before 
single justices, complaints are almost daily brought against 
some offender under the road law. Sometimes a common 
informer files a qui tarn prosecution against a hahitan for 
permitting, for instance, a cahot to be upon the public high- 
way in front of his house or property. Sometimes the sur- 
veyor, or overseer of roads and bridges, is prosecuted for not 
doing his duty ; that is, for not taking care that the good 
order of the roads is properly attended to. Sometimes, as 
there is a gradation of road officers, the one prosecutes the 
other for a neglect of public duty. The grand-voyer informs 
upon his inferiors, and, in return, the grand-voyer himself is 
not unfrequently charged with official dereliction. 

' The road system has always been a most fruitful source 
of petty, penal litigation in this province. The moment neigh- 
bours quarrel, the first thing they do in order to gratify their 
animosity is to prosecute one another for some breach of the 
road law, an offence easily substantiated against almost every 
landholder in the country. Such prosecutions are of course 
legally resisted, not only with the view of escaping the pre- 
scribed penalties, but also in the hope of gaining a judicial 
victory over private vindictiveness. Lawyers are employed, 
and the French Canadian will spend his last penny to get the 
better of his antagonist ; the consequence is, that many of 
the habitans have been driven to want and even to beggary 
by this propensity to litigation, a passion so congenial to the 
natures of an ignorant and semi -civilized people. 

* As to prosecutions under the road law, I have known many 
of them to commence before a single justice of the peace for 
a penalty of 5s. which terminated before the Court of King's 

1352.3 O 


Bench, after exposing the parties to an expense for law pro- 
ceedings of 151., 201. and even SOI. There are, first, the pro- 
ceedings before the justice or justices in special or weekly 
sessions — ^not at the door of the litigant, but at Quebec, 
Montreal or Three Rivers, frequently many miles distant from 
the homes of the contending parties. There is, next, an 
appeal to the quarter sessions ; and as it is impossible that 
the decision of any court can satisfy both sides, there is, lastly, 
a writ of certiorari to the Court of King's Bench, which, before 
it can be returned, will cost, at least, 51. in fees to court officers, 
besides the usual consideration to lawyers. 

'Now, although it is impossible to enforce the provisions 
of any statute imposing penalties, without admitting the right 
of any one that chooses to prosecute for these penalties, still, 
in a country where indolent habits are so prevalent, and where 
there are thousands who would expend their last farthing on 
law rather than repair a piece of road, at the cost of, perhaps, 
a few hours' manual labour, it seems absolutely necessary to 
have recourse to some more efficacious methods of enforcing 
the road law than those prescribed by the Act. Resort must 
be had to some system of municipal superintendence and 
direction similar to that which exists in Upper Canada. To 
be sure, the roads in that province are sometimes bad enough, 
but that is not the fault of the law ; it is the effect of a scanty 
population, and a corresponding want of funds for carrjdng 
the provisions of the law into execution."^ At any rate, if there 
were no other blemish in the road laws of Lower Canada than 
the facility which they afford to the litigious propensities of 
the French Canadians, no time ought to be lost in applying 
a remedy to the evil.' 

* This observation explains the cause of the imperfect working of the 
municipal machinery of Upper Canada, where the laws are framed in a 
manner very superior to those of the Lower Province. Persons who are 
disposed to regard the local administration of the United States as a model 
for other countries, will probably be unwilling to believe that in the State of 
New York, whose prosperity has been immensely increased by its canal 
and railroad communications, the management of the roads is extremely 
defective, although there is a large population, possessing abundant resources. 
The last message of the Governor to the legislature of the State of New 
York contains this reference to the subject : ' The present condition of our 
highways has resulted from the necessity of constructing roads over an 
extended surface, with the scanty means and efforts of a sparse population. 
But this inconvenience has, in a great measure, ceased to exist. The labour 
expended on our highways is a grievous tax, and yet our roads are scarcely 
improved. Their summer repairs accomplish little more than restoring 
them to the condition they maintained before the injuries of the winter 
season occurred. The evil lies in a misapplication of the labour assessed.' 



Each grand division of the province has its capital, the 
seat of district jurisdiction ; Quebec, Montreal and Three 
Rivers for their respective districts of the same name ; New 
Carlisle for the inferior district of Gaspe, and Sherbrooke for 
St. Francis. The population of Quebec has been estimated 
at 30,000 (the British and French Canadians being nearly in 
equal numbers) ; of Montreal (where the majority are sup- 
posed to be British) at 36,000 ; of Three Rivers, 3,000. New 
Carlisle and Sherbrooke are as yet rather villages than towns. 
Quebec and Montreal alone have been incorporated. 

A stranger arriving at Quebec experiences at every step 
the discomfort occasioned by the absence of good local govern- 
ment. He finds streets narrow and ill-paved, huge wooden 
steps projecting, in contempt of the law, across the broken 
and unsocial trottoir, to the imminent peril of the unwary 
passenger ; unwholesome water, sold by carters who take it 
from the St. Lawrence ; and a total want of public lights : 
a lantern is the usual resource of those who are obliged to 
explore their way through the streets on dark and stormy 
nights. Such is the capital of British North America, — 
a city beautifully situated, and possessing an extensive 

Montreal has, in some respects, more of British improve- 
ment in its appearance and arrangements than Quebec ; the 
paving is indeed very defective, but the new lines of streets 
are well laid out, and the obstacles to pedestrians are fewer 
and less formidable than in the provincial capital. A good 
supply of water is furnished by an incorporated company ; 
and there is a gas company prepared to light the town when- 
ever the local authorities are empowered to conclude an 
agreement for that purpose. As, under the existing legislature 
of Lower Canada, no new tax or rate can be imposed, Montreal 
remains in darkness during the nights of winter, at a time 
when military guards are planted in almost every street, and 
the citizens are constantly disturbed by alarms of invasion 
and insurrection. 

From the middle of November until May the inhabitants 
of the cities are held responsible, under the road law, for the 
state of the highways and footpaths in front of their houses. 
It is thus left to individuals to remove the obstacles caused 
by the snow, instead of resorting to the far more efficient 
and less annoying mode of providing for the performance of 
the work by general assessment. Many persons, finding it 

o 2 


inconvenient to discharge the duty through servants of their 
own, have recourse to professional street-clearers, who under- 
take to keep the ways free from obstruction during the winter 
season, at a certain specified rate of charge. 

The following announcement, taken from the Montreal 
newspapers of this year, will explain the practice more clearly 
than general description : — 

' Winter Roads. 

' Captain B. S. Schiller will, during the winter season (com- 
mencing 1st December, and ending 1st May) undertake to 
keep the roads free from cahots,"^ and to take away the ice 
and rubbish. He will also clear the footpaths. The charge 
for the above will be Qd. per superficial foot, payable as 
follows : — One -half on the 1st of December, and the other 
half on the 1st of March. 

' Captain S. hopes his friends will continue the patronage 
with which he has been favoured during the last 17 years.' 

Closely connected by commercial relations with Upper 
Canada, Montreal, under a stable system of government and 
enlightened institutions, would advance with great rapidity, 
and become, ere long, one of the most flourishing emporiums 
on the American continent. Its trade — ^indeed the whole 
trade of the province — ^is almost entirely in the hands of the 
British. An inclination to commercial pursuits is rarely dis- 
played by the Franco-Canadians ; on the contrary, they seem 
to regard the mercantile class with jealousy and dislike, and 
their occupations with something approaching to scorn. And 
what is the result of their anti-commercial habits and foolish 
prejudices ? The division of landed property, which takes 
place under the law of inheritance daily, reduces the means 
of the more opulent families. The young men of these families 

* The French word 'cdhot\ literally, a jolt or shake, is applied in Lower 
Canada to the inequalities on the winter roads, caused by the masses of snow 
accumulated, in consequence of the clumsy construction of the winter 
carriages in use among the hahitans. 

Where ' cahots ' abound, they destroy the pleasure of sleighing, and add 
materially to the fatigue of man and horse during a long journey. No such 
nuisance exists in the townships. Upper Canada or the United States. 
Attempts have been made, but in vain, by the authorities, to coerce the 
hdbitans into a reform of their vehicles ; had these attempts been persisted 
in, the country folks would probably have shown their determination to 
uphold the jolting system, by stopping the supplies to the town markets. 
It is indeed recorded, that such was actually the case, and had the effect 
of causing the Governor and Legislative Council of the day to repeal an 
ordinance prescribing, under a shght penalty, a small alteration in the form 
of the Canadian train or cariole. 


are destitute of the skill and capital required for profitable 
agriculture, even if they were disposed to maintain them- 
selves by farming. The Catholic Church offers few tempta- 
tions to the young and aspiring colonist ; and there is no 
army or navy to open a way for him to distinction. Law and 
medicine are the only professions that hold out the hope of 
elevation and independence ; but these professions are too 
crowded to render it possible for the majority of practitioners 
to obtain a satisfactory share of public favour, and conse- 
quent emolument. From professional disappointment arises 
political place -hunting, which, baffled in its object, too often 
expands into a wild desire for change, criminal in its means, 
desperate in its aims, the growth of mortified pride, narrow 
experience, and an unreasoning ambition. 

Under a temporary Act, Quebec and Montreal were watched 
and lighted, after a sort, down to May 1836. The funds were 
altogether unequal to the proper support of these essential 
branches of civic government. Lamps fed with oil were dis- 
tributed at intervals, ' few and far between ' ; and the guardian- 
ship of the night was intrusted to a meagre selection of the 
class of veteran servitors, of whose impotency for all useful 
purposes the people of London were cognizant before the 
establishment of ' the New Police '. 

A constabulary force for day and night service in Quebec 
and Montreal, on the plan of the metropolitan police, has been 
organized under an ordinance issued during the administra- 
tion of Lord Durham. The force in each city is placed under 
the direction and supervision of an inspector and superinten- 
dent, who is also a justice of the peace, and acts in that 
capacity. The propriety of uniting the functions of magis- 
trate and executive chief of police in one and the same person 
may well be questioned ; but in these particular cases it may 
doubtless be justified on the ground of present necessity. 
Such a necessity would cease to exist, if Quebec and Montreal 
were again incorporated upon safe, equitable and compre- 
hensive principles. 

Mr. T. A. Young, inspector and superintendent of police 
for Quebec, has furnished the subjoined return of the force 
on duty in that city, as a day and night police, on the 27th 
of September 1838 ; with a statement of the expense of its 
maintenance, and an estimate of contingencies. 


Quebec City Police. 

£. 8. d. 

One inspector and superintendent, per diem . 1 - - 

One chief constable . . . „ » • - 6 - 

One serjeant-major . . . „ • • - 4 - 

Two Serjeants, at 3*. Qd. each . ,, • • - 7 — 

Four corporals, at 3s. each . . „ • • - 12 - 

Twenty-four privates, at 2s. 6d. each „ . » 3 - - 

Expense per diem . 






9 - 

Weekly expense 


3 - 

Annual expense 
Contingencies : 

Clothing .... 
Stationery, printing, surgeon's 
count, expresses, secret service, 

. £.1,989 



13 - 

Total Expendituee for 

. £.2,637 

13 - 

Since the date of the preceding return, the provisions of the 
poHce ordinance have been extended to the parishes in the 
neighbourhood of Quebec and Montreal, and a considerable 
increase of the force in both cities has been made owing to 
this extension and the disturbed state of the province. 

The pohce, as an improvement upon the past, has generally 
afforded satisfaction, and in Quebec it has been very useful 
from the facilities it gave for the apprehension of runaway 
seamen. A testimony of its usefulness appears in the present- 
ment of the grand jury at the last September session of the 
Court of Kjng's Bench for the district of Quebec : — 

' The grand jury have noticed with much satisfaction the 
great advantages experienced by the public in the recent 
establishment of the police in this city, on an improved 
system, under the authority of his Excellency the Governor- 
general, and strongly recommend an increase to the members 
of this useful description of force ; added to which, the grand 
jury respectfully recommend that public lamps be again fixed 
throughout the city, — a measure of great necessity to aid the 
efficiency of the police, and fm-ther to secure the peace and 
quietness of the inhabitants during the night.' 

The recommendation of the grand jury respecting public 
lamps strikingly illustrates the neglect of the most ordinary 
accessaries to social comfort, security and decorum, occasioned 
by the want of appropriate local institutions. The Watch and 
Light Act expired in 1836, and as the law from which the 
Governor derived his powers deprived him of all authority 
in the matter of imposing any rate or tax, the recommenda- 



tion of the grand jury was, in substance, a suggestion to his 
Excellency to defray the expense of lighting the streets of 
Quebec out of the provincial chest, the funds in which appear 
to be regarded in Lower Canada as a common stock, on which 
every class of exigents have a right to lay their hands before 
they have recourse to their own particular pockets. Previous 
to the passing of the Acts incorporating Quebec and Montreal, 
bills for establishing municipal government in these cities 
had been sent up by the House of Assembly to the Legis- 
lative Council, where they were rejected, on the plea that 
they contained provisions calculated to promote private 
interests to the prejudice of the public. The bills which 
eventually received the sanction of the provincial legislature 
might, we conceive, have been justly rejected, for reasons in 
the main not dissimilar. In the first place, their temporary 
character had a tendency to lessen the respect due to the 
authority they were intended to create, that authority itself 
being necessarily incompetent to mature and work out any 
comprehensive plan of improvement. In the next place, their 
provisions, as regarded the municipal franchise and the dis- 
tribution of the wards, had the inevitable effect of giving 
a lasting and undue preponderance in the town councils to 
the representatives of a favoured class, namely, the Franco- 
Canadians. It happened, accordingly, that, among the twenty 
coimciUors allotted to Quebec, four was the average number 
of members of British blood. The officers appointed by the 
corporation were of French extraction, and the corporate 
records were kept in the French language. There was about 
the same proportion of members of British origin in the 
Montreal town council as in that of Quebec, and the corporate 
ofiicers were similarly selected. Thus, in two cities dependent 
for their prosperity on commerce, that portion of the com- 
munity who were at the head of aU commercial undertakings 
were, by a partial franchise, and an unfair sectional arrange- 
ment, thrown into a hopeless minority in the local adminis- 
trative bodies. Nor do we find that their exclusion was 
compensated by the superior trustworthiness of those who 
constituted the majority. In Montreal, the choice, for one year 
at least, was unfortunate. In the list of councillors elected 
in June 1835 (for the last year of incorporation) are the names 
of Dr. Robert Nelson, Messrs. E. E. Rodier, John M'Donnell, 
L. H. Lafontaine, J. Donegani, and Dr. Lusignan ; all of 
whom are now in prison or in exile, in consequence of being 
engaged in treasonable practices, or implicated in aiding and 
abetting them. 


Besides their temporary and exclusive character, there were 
other and vital defects in the Acts incorporating Quebec and 
Montreal. They invested the town councils with a very 
imperfect share of municipal attributes. These bodies had, 
in fact, hardly any substantial authority beyond the superin- 
tendence of streets, and, even in that department, they were 
controlled by a special Road Act of 1799. A section of the 
meagre statutes of incorporation is devoted to a summary 
of the moral obligations incident to the discharge of the 
mayoralty : ' The mayor to be vigilant and active in causing 
the laws for the government of the city to be respected,' &c. 
Through what description of agency the city functionary's 
vigilance was to be exerted, we are left to surmise, for he who, 
by virtue of his office, is chief magistrate in the corporate 
towns of Great Britain and the United States, was in the 
incorporated cities of Lower Canada no magistrate at aU. 
And if the administrative powers conferred upon the corpora- 
tions were little, the resources at their disposal were less. 
The average yearly revenue of the city of Quebec for five 
years was 5,500?., a sum which, Avith strict economy, would 
barely suffice to pay the corporate ofiicers, and maintaia an 
efficient constabulary police. 

Partial in the distribution of electoral privileges ; crippled 
by the Road Act, the Watch and Light Act, and other laws 
for municipal purposes ; obliged to await the tardy sanction 
of the superior courts to their bye-laws and internal regula- 
tions ; destitute of funds adequate to the proper accomplish- 
ment of the objects within the limited circle of their adminis- 
tration ; the corporations of Quebec and Montreal passed 
through the term of their brief existence, leaving with the 
public no memorial of their usefulness, nor any general 
anxiety for their rcAdvaL* Sir George Gipps could hardly 
have examined this halting attempt at municipal govern- 
ment, when he expressed the opinion, ' that if the chief 
magistrates of Quebec and Montreal, after their completion 
of the terms of their service, were to become, of right, legis- 
lative counciQors for an equal term, it would add to the 
popularity of the legislative councillors'. 

* It is stated, that an Act for continuing the incorporation of Montreal 
was thrown out by the House of Assembly, because a provision had been 
inserted in it by the Legislative Council, conferring the municipal franchise 
upon tenants as well as proprietors. 




By the Provincial Act 1 Will. 4, c. 52, Quebec was incor- 
porated and divided into 10 wards ; each ward to return two 
members to the common council ; nine of the 20 councillors 
thus returned to constitute a quorum, of which the mayor 
always to be considered one. 

Electoral Qualification. 

The right of voting for the ward in which he resided, con- 
ferred upon every male inhabitant, being a resident in the 
city for 12 months precediug the election, and proprietor of 
a house, with the ground on which it is built and paying 

In cases of objection to voters, the party tendering the vote 
to swear to his qualification. 

Qualification of Councillors. — The possession as proprietor 
of real property to the yearly value of 251. currency (amount- 
ing to 221. 4:S. 8d. sterling), clear of aU incumbrances, and 
over and above all rents and charges affecting the same (said 
property being in the ward for which the return is made) ; 
with residence in the city for two years previous to the election. 

Election of Councillors. — The annual election to be holden 
on the first Monday in June ; poll to open at 10 in the morn- 
ing, and close at four in the afternoon. The election not to 
occupy more than two successive days, unless Sundays and 
holidays (fetes d' obligation) should intervene. Justices of the 
peace to preside at the first elections under the Act ; at aU 
subsequent elections, the councillors for the time being in their 
respective wards. 

One-half of the council to retire in annual rotation. At the 
close of the first year under the Act, the councillors for the 
several wards to determine the order of their retirement by 
lot or ballot. 

* Assessment is levied under the road law, which provides, ' That no lot 
of ground which (together with the houses and buildings thereon erected) 
does not exceed the annual value of 5/. currency, and no lots, houses or 
buildings occupied by religious communities of women, and no grounds 
without the fortification walls of the said cities respectively used for pasture, 
hay-land, or for raising grain, shall be assessed under this Act.' No other 
description of property is exempted. ' The Canadians,' says Laterriere, in 
his Political and Historical Account of Lower Canada, ' with hardly an 
exception, are proprietors of land.' Not so the commercial classes of British 
origin resident in the towns. 


Persons refusing to serve liable to a penalty of 251. currency. 
No councillor obliged to serve for more than four successive 
years. Exemptions may be claimed by certain public officers 
and members of learned professions. 

Oath of Office. — CounciQors sworn to perform and execute 
their duty according to the intent and meaning of the 

The Mayor. — To be elected annually by and from the 
council, and to be allowed a salary not exceeding lOOl. per 
annum. — Chief executive officer of the corporation and president 
of the council, which may, in his absence, choose a temporary 
chairman. Empowered to caU extraordinary meetings of 
council.* Instructed ' to be vigilant and active in causing 
the laws for the government of the city to be enforced, to 
inspect the conduct of all subordinate municipal officers, and, 
so far as in his power, to cause aU neglect or violation of duty 
to be prosecuted and punished '. Also instructed to com- 
municate to the council such information and recommend 
such measures ' as may tend to the improvement of the 
finances, the police, health, security, cleanliness, comfort and 
advancement of the town '. 

Proceedings and Powers of Council. 

Proceedings to be public * with regard to aU the members 
of the incorporation '. 

A statement of revenue and expenditure to be published 
at least once a year, in one or more of the French and English 
newspapers of the city. 

The council to appoint such officers as to it may seem 
expedient, and allow them a just and reasonable remunera- 
tion. The treasurer to give security, and all the corporate 
officers to render their accounts as often as required by the 

Council to have the powers which, before the passing of the 
Act, were vested in the justices of the peace (resident in the 
city) for making police regulations, receiving and emplojdng 
the monies raised by assessments or otherwise, and over and 
concerning aU streets, lanes, roads, causeways, pavements, 
bridges, embankments, water -courses, sewers, market-places 
public squares, and aU other improvements within the city ; 
the making and repairing of aU market-houses and weigh- 
houses in the different markets, watching and lighting, and, 

* The Act made no provision for meetings of council at certain fixed 



generally, over all things which might in any way regard 
the improvement and convenience of the city.* 

Comicil to have possession of all monies raised by assess- 
ment or otherwise, the funds appropriated for watching and 
lighting the city, and all the immovable property and out- 
standing debts formerly under the control of the justices of 
the peace, with all registers, books of assessment and other 
documents belonging to or concerning the city. 

Council empowered to make bye-laws, ' such laws not being 
repugnant to the laws and constitution of the province,' with 
the proviso that no bye-law shall have effect unless made by 
a majority of the whole council, and confirmed by the Coiu-t 
of King's Bench. Bye-laws not to impose any fine or penalty 
exceeding the sum of 51. currency. 

Fines, penalties and forfeitures recoverable in a summary 
manner before any two justices of the peace for the district, 
in weekly sessions ; one moiety of such fines and forfeitures 
to go to the informer, the other to the corporate fund. 

Council empowered to purchase ground for opening new 
streets, squares and market-places, or improving those already 
opened ; also to borrow money and to issue transferable and 
redeemable bonds for the same, bearing interest not exceed- 
ing six per cent. The sums borrowed not to exceed at any 
time * one moiety of the net proceeds of the revenue raised 
by assessment or otherwise ' for city purposes during the 
preceding year. 

The powers vested in the corporation not to interfere with 
the powers granted by law to the Trinity-house in respect of 
the port and harbour of Quebec. 


By the Act of Incorporation, 1 Will. 4, c. 54, the city was 
divided into eight wards, each returning two members to the 
council. Seven to be a quorum; the mayor always to be 

The Act restrained the corporation from interfering with 
the powers of the Montreal Trinity-house (since merged in 
that of Quebec), the wharves and slips erected or being 
erected by the commissioners for improving and enlarging 
the harbour of the city, and the wharves and grounds under 
the direction of the commissioners for superintending and 

* The municipal powers withdrawn by the Act from the resident justices 
became re-invested in them after the Act had expired. Thus two important 
towns were shuttle-cocked between different forms of local government in 
the short space of three years. 


enlarging the Lachine Canal. With the exception of these 
purely local provisions, the Montreal Statute of Incorpora- 
tion is similar to that of Quebec. 

Municipal Officers. 

Mr. Longevin, formerly town clerk of Quebec, has furnished 
the following list of municipal officers for that city during the 
period of its incorporation, distinguishing those appointed 
by the council and those appointed by the Crown. With 
some immaterial differences, the return will also apply to 

Officers appointed hy the Crown. 

Health Officer. — Chief duty, inspecting vessels, their crews 
and passengers. 

Road Surveyor. — Duties prescribed by Road and Police Acts. 

Inspector of Flour. 

Inspector of Pot and Pearl Ashes. 

Inspector of Chimneys. — The duty performed in 1833, by an 
officer chosen by a society constituted under a tem- 
porary Act, and confirmed by the Common Council. 
After the expiry of the said Act, the duty performed 
by the officer originally appoiated by the Crown. 

Inspector of Weights and Measures. 

Clerks of Markets. 

Superintendent of Watch and Light, and his Deputy, under 
a provincial Act since expired. 

Clerks of the Peace ; High Constable. — ' District ' officers. 

Harbour Master and Superintendent of the Cul-de-sac. — 
Appointed by the Crown, but acting under the 
direction of the Quebec Trinity-house. 

Offix^ers appointed hy the Common Council. 

Town Clerk. — (This office was not filled by a lawyer.) 
Road Treasurer. — Acting as treasurer to the corporation. 
Law Ad^viser. — ^None appointed in 1835. 
Clerks of Markets. — Two for new markets opened during the 

period of incorporation, but not recognized by the 

Inspector of Beaches. — ^Under a temporary Act, now expired. 
Corporation Wardens. — Six ; for enforcing sanatory and other 

regulations ; and inspecting streets and public works. 




To the foregoing list may be added, 
The Assessors of the City Rate. — There are five, who serve 
gratuitously, and are selected by the magistrates out 
of a list of 15, presented annually by the grand jm*y 
at quarter sessions. Parties assessed have the right 
of appeal to the justices at quarter sessions. 

Public Buildings. 
No town-hall or other building for corporate uses in Quebec 
or Montreal. The Quebec Council held its sittings in a house 
rented for the purpose. The Montreal Council met in a room 
in the court-house, by permission of the justices. 

The sources of corporate revenue in both cities were — 
Assessment on real estate. 
Tax on horses. 

Poll-tax, being composition for statute labour. 
Tavern and other licenses. 
Markets and stalls. 
Municipal property. 
Fines, penalties and forfeitures. 
Subscriptions from parties desirous of improvements. 


By a rather complex statement from the road treasury, 
Quebec, it appears that the amount of revenue raised in the 
city from the 1st of January 1833 to the 31st of December 
1837, was 27,505Z. 135. U. 

The expenditure during the same period was 27,879?. 95. 10c?. 
Of this expenditure, the charge under the head of salaries to 
officers is 4,362?. 95. 3c?. 

Amount of debt owing by the city, up to September 1838, 
1,992?. 45. 3c?., being money expended in the purchase of 
ground for opening and prolonging streets, and in the con- 
struction of wharves in the St. Paul's-street market. 

Amount of unpaid assessment, and rent of stalls for the year 
1837, 137?. 165. 5c?. 


I. Total amount of city revenue from the 1st of January 
1833 to the 1st of December 1837, 31,406?. 55. 2c?. 

II. The road treasurer's statement shows the proportions 
in which the various sources of revenue contributed to the 
city fund. 



Statement showing the various Sources of the Annual 
Revenue of Montreal, for the Years 1833, 1834, 1835, 
1836, 1837. 





1836. j 


£. s. 


£. 8. 


£. 8. d.\ 

£. 8. d. \ 

£. 8. 


Assessment on property 

2,908 - 




6 3,511 3 9 : 

i,048 4 10 i 

3,879 16 


Tax on horses . . . 

327 15 





337 2 6 

371 5 - j 

315 - 


Statute labour money . 

152 10 





186 12 6 

162 15 - 

87 2 


Tavern-keepers . . , 

32 - 




_ 1 

382 1 


508 - 



_ _ 





284 ; 


168 - 


Rent of butchers' stalls 

247 17 




395 14 - j 

373 5 - 

396 - 


Clerk of the markets . 

131 7 


213 10 


203 19 7^1 

203 18 4^ 

239 17 


Rent of municipal pro- 





91 5 - 

88 5 - 

86 10 




86 2 




39 12 6 

23 15 - 

58 17 


Arrears collected . . 

142 19 





250 9 6 

58 6 - 

14 15 


Balance in hand . . . 

- - 





17017 1 

144 - 3^ 

1,149 - 


Loan of money . . . 

1,000 - 





1,007 12 11 

200 - 

Sale of old materials . 

_ _ 





2 7 6 

26 6 3 

Amount of public sub- 

— — 






Waterworks company. 




in lieu of repairing 



5,028 11 





5,855 3 Hi 

7,187 6 2» 

7,102 19 


III. Amount of expenditure from 1st January 1833 to 
31st December 1837, 29,311Z. 195. M. 

IV. Claims against the City of Montreal up to 31 August 


£. 8. d. 1 

John Bowers * . . . | 

500 -- 

with interest . 

from 4 August 1835. 

Fabrique of Montreal f i 

750 -- 

without interest 

from 26 April 1836. 

Hon. John Molson % . 

5,250 - - 

with interest . 

from 20 April 1836. 

Hon. Pierre de Roche- 

120 - - 


from 2 June 1838. 


Augustin TuUoch . . 1 

120 -- 



Moses Hayes . . . . ' 


Avithout interest. 

Henry Jackson . . . 

44 6 6 


Montreal and People's 

1,500 - - 

with interest . 

10 August 1838. 


Thomas Philipps . . . 

75 - - 



8,438 7 - 

* This loan of money was contracted under the sign manual of the mayor 
and seal of the city corporation. The creditor has not required the amount, 
but only the interest, which has been annually paid to him. 

t One instalment of 100/. has been paid for the year 1837. 

i This debt was contracted under and by virtue of 6 Will. 4, c. 7. 

* Sic in Blue Book. [Ed.] 





Or the ten wards into which the city was divided, four were 
allotted by the Act of incorporation to the Upper Town, two 
to the Lower, and four to the suburbs. 


To the city proper were allotted two wards ; to the suburbs, 
six ; returning 16 members, less by four than Quebec, which is 
inferior to Montreal in wealth and population. 

In this distribution of wards no sound governing principle 
is discernible ; nor, indeed, principle of any kind. Had 
aggregate population formed the basis of the division, the 
Upper Town of Quebec would have had a smaller, and the 
Lower Town a larger share of the municipal representation ; 
for according to the returns of 1825, the population of the 
latter was 4,187, and of the former, 4,445. That the influence 
of property was not regarded in the warding of the cities will 
be seen by referring to the assessments for the several divisions 
of each. 

General View of the Assessments for each Section of the 
aty of Quebec in 1837, 

in each 




2s. Qd. 


Is. 6d. 

Real Estate, 

at 2^ per 

Cent, on 




Two Wards 

Two Wards 

Two Wards 
Four Wards 

St. John and St. 

Louis suburbs. 
St. Roch and St. 

Vallier suburbs. 
Lower Town 
Upper Town 

£. s. d. 
101 12 6 

75 2 6 

89 10- 
67 2 6 

£. s. d. 
9512 6 


15 — 
5517 6 

£. s. d. 
230 5 6 

319 1 - 

955 8 6 
999 - - 

£. s. d. 
427 10 6 

472 18 6 

1,059 18 6 
1,122 -- 

Grand Totals . £. 

333 7 6 

245 5- 

2,503 15 - 

3,082 7 6 

Mr. Molson having experienced some difficulty relating to the payment, has 
instituted a law-suit against the magistrates, which was pending in court 
at the date of the return. 

The various sums due to the above-mentioned claimants were expended 
in enlarging the new market, tunnelling the little river, and improving the 

3^,(UBRARy jo] 



Of this assessment, the amount actually contributed in 
1837, from each section, was — 

£ 8. d. 

From St. John and St. Louis suburbs . . . 395 5 - 

„ St. Roch and St. Vallier suburbs . . 451 10 3 

„ Lower Town ...... 1,031 3 6 

„ Upper Town 1,111 7 6 

Excess of city contribution over suburbs 1,295 15 9 
Excess of Lower Town contribution, alone, 

over suburbs 184 7 9 

The Montreal * assessment ' for the year 1837 amounted to 
4,801Z. 45. of which 4,281?. 195. was actually collected in the 
subjoined proportions from each section of the town. 

Actual Contribftion from each Section of the City of 
Montreal, on the Assessment of 1837. 

Real Estate, \ 


Men, at 
28. U. 

Horses, at 
7s. 6d. 

on Annual \ ^°^"^* 
Value. \ 

£. 8. d.\ £. 8. d. 

£. 8. d.\ £. 8. d. 

City East Ward . 

20 10 - 

33 15 - 

1,177 14 6 1,231 19 6 

Proper West Ward . 

20 2 6 

27 15 - 

977 6 -1 1,025 3 6 

St. Lawrence „ 

8 12 6 

49 10 - 

394 17 6 i 453 - - 

St. Antoine „ 

2 5- 

27 15 - 

165 6 - 195 6 - 

St. Louis 

14 5 -i 41 12 6 

260 11 6 

316 9 - 

St. Mary 

15 - -' 48 15 - 

252 12 6 

316 7 6 

St. Anne „ 

2 7 6! 39 7 61 346 6 - 

388 1 - 

St. Joseph 

4 - - 

46 10 -| 305 2 6 

355 12 6 

Grand Totals . £. 

87 2 6 

315 - - 3,879 16 6 

4,281 19 - 

City Proper 

40 12 6 : 61 10 - ' 2,155 - 6 \ 2,257 3 - 


46 10 - : 253 10 - 1,724 16 - 2,024 16 - 

Excess of City Contributions 

over Suburbs . . . £. j 232 7 - 

The inferiority of the assessment on real estate in the 
suburban divisions, as compared with the main part of the 
cities, clearly establishes the fact, that in apportioning municipal 
representatives to the different sections of Quebec and Montreal, 
the Canadian legislature did not proceed upon the basis of pro- 
perty ; nor assuming that the proprietorial qualification was 
a sound and liberal one, instead of being partial and narrow, 
does it appear that the plan of warding adopted in Quebec was 
justified by the number of qualified voters in each ward. 

We learn from the assessment books that the number of 
rated proprietors of houses and lots in the Upper Town of 
Quebec is 221 ; in the Lower Town, 265 ; in St, John and 



St. Louis suburbs, 343 ; in St. Roch and St. Vallier suburbs, 473. 
Now, had the distribution of the wards been regulated by the 
number of assessed proprietors, the suburbs would have formed 
at least six out of the ten, while the Upper Town, even had the 
wards been increased to twelve, would not have been entitled 
to more than two, under the same standard of qualification. 

Unable, then, to discover any guiding principle in the 
warding of Quebec and Montreal, it is difficult to resist the 
conviction, that the comparatively small share of repre- 
sentative influence given to the Lower Town of Quebec and 
the City Proper of Montreal, where trade is chiefly centred, 
and where the commercial interest prevails, originated in 
a feeling hostile to the British population on the part of the 
House of Assembly, or of those who were instrumental in 
passing the measiu-e of incorporation through that House. 
In consequence of aggrandizing the Upper Town at the 
expense of the Lower, the four wards in the former contained 
only a mockery of popular constituencies. The assessment 
books show that the whole of the proprietors qualified to vote 
for the city council amount to about 1,302 ; of which 816 
belong to the poorer suburban population : after deducting 
from the remaining 486 the 265 Lower Town electors to be 
distributed between two wards, there is left for each of the 
Upper Town wards an average electoral body of 55 and 
a fraction, — a constituency little better than a close club. 


Capital and population are the wants of a colony like 
Lower Canada, and it must be the object of an enlightened 
policy to encourage their introduction by an ungrudging par- 
ticipation in the rights of citizenship. In the towns, especially, 
every inducement should be given to the settlement of wealthy, 
enterprising and industrious strangers. The municipal fran- 
chise selected by the Canadian legislature was calculated to 
have an effect directly the reverse, inasmuch as, being vested 
exclusively in the possessors of real estate, it conferred a 
monopoly of local influence on the old race of settlers to the 
prejudice of the new ; and this, too, in places depending on 
trade for their prosperity, and where the commercial classes 
have always been recruited from without. It is hard to 
believe that the House of Assembly had any other motive 
in fixing the municipal franchise than the desire to secure the 
ascendancy to the Franco-Canadians."^ 

* In Upper Canada, Toronto has been successfully incorporated, and the 
municipal franchise of that city is, by the Act of Incorporation, vested * in 
1362-3 p 



By the Constitutional Act, the privilege of voting for 
members of the House of Assembly itself was extended to the 
occupiers of houses pajdng a yearly rent of lOl. sterling, yet 
the very same class of tenants, who were chiefly British, were 
deprived by the legislature which this Act created, of a voice 
in the municipal elections. And that the municipal franchise 
adopted by the provincial legislature afforded no correct test 
of the degree of individual or sectional interest in the judicious 
management of city affairs is evident from the assessment 
returns, which show that 816 suburban proprietors of Quebec, 
having eight representatives in the council, did not contribute 
so much annually to the corporate fund, by 1841. Is. 9d., as 
did the 265 Lower Town proprietors, having no more than 
four representatives. 

Poor and ignorant Canadians are the proprietors of houses 
and lots, of which the yearly assessment value would rarely 
be less than 6?. ; and while the proprietorial franchise tended 
to give such persons an undue influence in the urban govern- 
ment of the province, it had the effect of excluding persons 
of wealth and intelligence ; the very best depositaries of 
colonial municipal power. Nor can the authors of this in- 
vidious and deceptive franchise uphold it on the score of its 
popular operation. Had the possession of the electoral right 
been conceded to the single class of occupiers of houses assessed 
at the annual value of lOZ. sterling, it would have been more 
extensively as weU as more equitably distributed. Take, for 
example, the comparative amount of proprietors and occupiers 
of houses assessed as before in the city of Quebec. 




Increase and 

St. John and St. Louis suburbs 
St. Roch and St. VaUier suburbs 
Lower Town .... 
Upper Town .... 



Less by 161. 

More by 224. 





More by 179. 

such male inhabitant freeholders within the ward for which the elections 
shall be holden, or the liberties thereof, as shall be possessed at the time of 
the election, either in freehold or as tenant for a term of years, or from year to 
year, of a town lot or dwelling-house mthin the said ward or liberties : 
Provided always, that a portion of a house in which any inhabitant shall 
reside as a householder, and not as a boarder or lodger, and having a distinct 
communication with the street by an outer door, shall be considered a 
dwelling-house within the meaning of this clause.' By a subsequent Act 
(7 Will. 4, s. 39), the franchise was altered, and the right of voting restricted to 
possessors, either in freehold, or as tenants for a term of years, or from year to 
year, of a town lot or dwelling-house rated at the yearly value of ten pounds* 




Thus it appears, that by conferring municipal electoral 
rights on this class of substantial occupiers, in preference to 
assessed proprietors, the constituency of Quebec (which would 
be open to constant increase by new settlers) would at once 
receive an addition of 179 voters. But this is not all : it will 
be found, on referring to the assessment returns, that the 
substitution of occupiers for proprietors would bring the 
electoral strength of the municipal divisions into limits pro- 
portionate to their respective sectional contributions to the 
local revenue. St. Louis and St. John suburbs, which con- 
tribute the least amount, would have fewest qualified voters, 
and of course ought to have fewest wards. The Upper Town, 
which pays the largest assessment, would furnish the most 
numerous constituency ; and the remaining divisions, accord- 
ing to their proportion of the public burthens, would obtain 
their share of influence. By a new and just municipal division, 
the number of wards should be so limited as to ensure con- 
stituencies large enough to make what might deserve to be 
entitled a popular choice, and at the same time afford their 
due weight and influence to the heaviest tax -payers. 

In the city of Montreal, the enlargement of the municipal 
constituency, by transferring the franchise from proprietors 
to the aforesaid class of occupiers, would be still more impor- 
tant than in Quebec. 




Increase and 

East Ward . . . 



More by 274. 

West Ward . 




„ 272. 

St. Anne's Ward 




St. Joseph „ 





St. Antoine „ 





St. Lawrence,, 




, 139. 

St. Louis „ 





St. Mary 



, 170. 




„ 1,306. 

The constituency of Montreal would thus be nearly doubled, 
the greatest increase accruing to the east and west wards, 
which constitute the ' city proper ', and pay a larger share of 
assessments than all the other wards combined, and are 
particularly devoted to the commerce on which the town 
depends for its prosperity. 




For a seat in the House of Assembly or the Legislative 
Council, no qualification whatever was required by the Con- 
stitutional Act. By the provincial Act, 2 Will. 4, c. 22, the 
right of serving on grand juries of the superior courts was 
extended to occupiers of houses in Quebec and Montreal 
paying a yearly rent of 60?., as well as to the owners of real 
property producing an annual return of 251. A like qualifica- 
tion, but to a less amount, was fixed by the same Act for the 
grand jurors at quarter sessions. By the Quebec and Montreal 
statutes of incorporation the qualification was restricted 
absolutely to the possession of real property to the yearly 
value of 221. lOs. sterling, clear of all incumbrances. 

There are two objections to this qualification ; first, the 
impossibility of ascertaining whether it be actual or nominal ; 
second, its tendency to exclude from the management of 
corporate affairs persons highly competent to conduct them 
with advantage, viz. those whose capital is embarked in 

Under the laws of the province there is no way of arriving 
at the knowledge of the incumbrances on real estate, so that 
an individual having ostensibly a 251. property qualification, 
may, in fact, not be possessed of an annual income of 25 pence. 
The municipal representatives of Quebec and Montreal were 
not required to swear to their qualification. 

Owing to the aforesaid defect in the provincial law, and to 
the unimproving and unstable system of general government, 
most of the British engaged in trade have been deterred from 
the purchase of real property, for lack of which they were 
inadmissible to the city councils, however wealthy, experienced 
or enlightened they might be. Nothing could be more short- 
sighted and illiberal than to frame laws for establishing 
municipal institutions in such a way as to give an undue 
preponderance to the class which was wholly unacquainted 
with the working of these institutions by excluding another 
class whose social training in the mother-country had made 
them familiar with their operation, their objects and their 
advantages. And why was a tenancy qualification, recog- 
nized with regard to grand jurors by the Canadian legislature 
overlooked with respect to the members of a municipal 
council ? 



The property vested in the corporation of Quebec was 
comprised of markets, St. Paul's wharf, and a small lot of 
ground opposite the custom-house, granted to the city by the 
Crown. The markets were established by provincial Acts ; 
one for the Upper Town, one for the Lower (St. PauFs-street), 
and one for the St. Roch's suburbs. The last has not suc- 
ceeded. There is also a hay-market. 

The principal market is in the Upper Town. Mr. Thomas 
Atkins, clerk of the market, (who is also the inspector of 
weights and measures, at a yearly salary of 40/.), stated to 
the commissioners, that, in addition to his salary, he was 
entitled to weigh-house fees ; but these had been reduced 
almost to nothing by a regulation which permits the buyer 
and seller, when both are consenting, to weigh commodities 
where they like. There are 18 stalls in the market, which let, 
on an average, at from two to five dollars a year each. They 
are let annually by auction. The revenue from them is 
diminished, owing to the great number of hucksters, who pay 
no rent, and only 5s. a year for license. These hucksters 
advance the price of almost every article for sale by fore- 
stalling. Mr. Atkins has recommended the magistrates to 
raise the charge of a huckster's license to 51. yearly. 

The chief business done in the St. Paul's market is the 
selling of hay, which has been removed thither from the 
Upper Town. The old hay -market does not, at present, 
yield any revenue ; but the magistrates are said to entertain 
the intention of erecting new stalls upon it, which might be 
made to pay well. 

The general returns from the Quebec markets might be 
considerably increased. A trifling income has been derived 
from St. Paul's wharf. 


Besides markets, the corporation of Montreal had no pro- 
perty, save a common, containing about 40 acres ; returning 
no revenue, but capable of being advantageously disposed of 
in lots. 

Four markets, exclusive of a hay-market, have been estab- 
lished, under provincial Acts — the new market, St. Anne's, 
Pres de Ville and St. Lawrence markets. Little, if any, 
business is done, except in the new market and St. Anne's. 


The new market belongs to the city, and is the most fre- 
quented. Its returns are good, in proportion to the original 
outlay and yearly expenditure. 

St. Anne's market is under the management of trustees. 
According to a statement furnished by their treasurer, Mr. 
Thomas Blackwood, the claims against the trustees remain- 
ing unliquidated on the 1st of September 1838, amounted 
to £. 19,057 4 5 

Viz. Money borrowed .... £.13,77613 4 
Balance due to tradesmen for erect- 
ing the market -house, &c. 
Interest of money up to June 1838 

Receipts for last Three Years 

From 1st July 1835 to 30th June 1836 . 
„ 1st July 1836 to 30th June 1837 . 
„ 1st July 1837 to 30th June 1838 . 

ExPENDiTFRE for last Three Years 

From 1st July 1835 to 30th June 1836 . 
„ 1st July 1836 to 30th June 1837 . 
„ 1st July 1837 to 30th June 1838 . 

The officers of the market are secretary and treasurer (one 
person), at a yearly salary of 251. ; clerk, at a reduced salary 
of 501. ; and constable, at a reduced salary of SOI. 



Edward Glackemeyer, Esq., notarj^ public, justice of the 
peace, and formerly a member of the Quebec common councilj 
being examined, expressed the opinion, that the powers con- 
ferred upon the councils of the incorporated towns were too 
limited. With an inadequate revenue for effecting necessary 
local improvements, they were destitute of authority to raise 
an assessment. There was and is no public supply of water 
in Quebec, and the watch and light fund was insufficient for 
the proper accomplishments of the objects to which it was 
appropriated. The expenses of the fire department were 
defrayed out of the ' road money '. There was no municipal 
property, except the markets, a wharf, and a small lot of 






























ground, worth perhaps 1,000Z. or 1,200Z. All the wharves are 
private property, with the exception of the St. Paul's (city) 
wharf, and the King's ; the latter is appropriated to the pur- 
poses of government. The Court of King's Bench delayed 
for six months the grant of its sanction to the market regula- 
tions framed by the Quebec common council. When the Act 
of Incorporation last expired, the same court refused to renew 
its sanction to these very regulations when applied to by the 
magistrates ; and the markets came again under the old rules, 
which are unfit for the present state of society in the town. 

It was desirable that there should be a comprehensive 
municipal administration, including, so far as might be reason- 
able, every institution of a municipal character, and invested 
mth power to appoint all corporate officers, license public- 
houses, &c. &c. 

A daily police court is much wanted for the summary trial 
of petty offences, and breaches of municipal law. At present 
it was sometimes difficult to procure an attendance of magis- 
trates, those unacquainted with law having a disinclination 
to attend. For this, among other reasons, it was expedient 
that a paid professional chairman should be appointed to 
preside at quarter sessions. 

A change might properly be made in the municipal fran- 
chise, by adopting the city franchise for the election of mem- 
bers of the House of Assembly. This alteration, by extending 
the right of voting to those tenants w^ho paid a yearly rent of 
lOl. sterling, would increase the number of city electors in 
a larger proportion than the suburban. The possession of 
a yearly clear income of 251., arising out of real property, 
appeared to him a sufficient qualification for a common coun- 
cillor, and he considered it just to exclude from the council 
all who were not possessors of a real property qualification. 

A larger revenue might be obtained from the markets if the 
rules framed by the corporation were again in operation. 
The property of the Cul-de-sac, now vested in the Trinity 
house, and comparatively valueless, might, if transferred to 
a city corporation, be made productive. The wants of the 
public under municipal government ought to be provided 
for by a general assessment, when the funds raised by special 
rates proved insufficient. The existing mode of assessment 
might be improved, it being unequal, troublesome and expen- 
sive. An assessor was chosen yearly for each of the five 
divisions of the city, and the consequent inequality of assess- 
ment occasioned complaint and appeals to the magistrates. 
There ought to be paid assessors for rating the whole town 


uniformly, and, instead of a ^''early valuation, one in every 
five years might perhaps sufiice. 

The ferry from Quebec to Point Levi is an open one, and 
is under the jurisdiction of the Trinity-house. The only 
regulation respecting ferryage is a rule of the Trinity board, 
that the horse -boats shall start regularly every half hour. 

Mr. Glackemeyer is of opinion that the Quebec corporation 
had generally afforded satisfaction to the public, until politics 
were introduced into the council. The affairs of the city 
would, he conceived, never be well regulated until they were 
again submitted to corporate control. 

Ehenezer Baird, esq., merchant and a member of the late 
corporation of Quebec, did not think that the corporation 
had satisfied the inhabitants generally. There was, in fact, 
a continual outcry against it. Its character was injured and 
its usefulness impaired by the introduction of party politics. 
One instance to which he alluded was the uncalled-for intro- 
duction to the council by Mr. (now Judge) Bedard, of a letter 
from William Lyon M'Kenzie. In addition to the objection 
arising from its interference in politics, the corporation was 
imperfect in its powers, not possessing the prerogatives of 
an efficient municipal government. It had, for example, no 
police court peculiar to itself, nor any means for enforcing 
the summary payment of rates, such as are possessed by the 
corporation of Toronto. 

The British population were not fairly represented in the 
council. This was partly owing to the partial provisions of 
the Act of Incorporation, and partly to the supineness of the 
British, who felt that they must, under such a law, always 
remain in a minority, and, therefore, did not greatly exert 
themselves to obtain admission into a body constituted with 
powers so inadequate. The municipal franchise was not an 
equitable one ; it operated more directly against the rights of 
the British, than the elective franchise for the House of 
Assembly. A uniform household qualification, say to the 
extent of lOl. sterling by the yearly assessment, would be 
preferable to a qualification based upon the possession of real 
property, which in the towTis must tend to exclude new 
settlers and persons in trade from a share in the local govern- 
ment. The qualification of common councillors was too low 
to secure the services of respectable men ; it ought to be 
doubled, at least ; nor ought it to be confined to the owner- 
ship of real estate, which, in a colony under the French law 
of property, afforded no grounds of forming a correct estimate 
of an individual's worldly circumstances. 



There was not sufficient funds at the disposal of the corpora- 
tion, nor were the modes of assessment and appropriation the 
best that might have been devised. It would be better to 
appoint permanent assessors to value all the rateable property 
of the city at reasonable intervals, — ^for example, once in 
three years. There ought to be a general fund for corporate 
purposes, composed of the aggregate local contributions ; and 
when a deficiency arose in providing for any useful object of 
expenditure, it should be supplied by a general equitable 
assessment. Certain taxes levied upon shops and taverns 
ought not to have been specially set apart for watching and 
lighting ; nor ought the road money to have borne the expense 
of the fire department. As to payment of fair local taxes, 
people would not object to it if the extent of public accom- 
modation bore a just proportion to the outlay. 

In the event of the cities of Lower Canada being again 
incorporated, the town councils ought to have the control of 
the police, the fire department and other branches of municipal 
administration, and the corporate jurisdiction should be ex- 
tended as far as high -water mark of the St. La"v\Tence. 

The power of making bye -laws should be granted to the 
councils without imposing on them the necessity of awaiting 
the sanction of the Court of King's Bench. Corporations 
wisely constituted and invested with due authority would be 
of the greatest advantage to Quebec and Montreal. 

Rene Edouard Caron, esq., advocate and mayor of Quebec 
during two years, considered the power of the late corpora- 
tion too circumscribed, and its revenues too limited, for an 
efficient administration of city affairs. The road surveyor 
and some other officers performing corporate duties were 
appointed by the Crown, nor had the common council even 
the power of appointing the common constables. In case of 
the peace of the city being disturbed, the mayor had no more 
right to interfere than any other citizen. 

The corporation was fettered by various municipal laws, 
all of which should be repealed if the cities are re-incorporated, 
and the powers conferred by these laws on insulated authori- 
ties, together with the appointment of all the municipal 
officers, should be given to the councils ; which ought like- 
wise to be empowered to frame bye-laws without reference 
to the Court of King's Bench or the executive. The cor- 
porate authority should not only be extended, but clearly 
defined, so as to prevent it clashing with the jurisdiction of the 
Trinity-house. Of course an increase of duty would call for a 
corresponding increase in the number of municipal councillors. 


A daily police court would be of great utility, provided 
there were a paid professional magistrate (who might preside 
at quarter sessions) to sit with and assist such unpaid magis- 
trates as might be in attendance. The mayor ought to be 
a magistrate ex officio, and be allowed a salary in proportion 
to his responsibility, labour and sacrifice of time. Unless 
a salary were given, it would be difiicult to procure the services 
of qualified persons ; there being but few who could afford 
to spare the time requisite for the discharge of the office. 

Triennial assessment appeared to him objectionable, owing 
to the frequency of removal and the fluctuations in the value 
of property. As to the imposition of new taxes, it would 
probably be complained of at the outset, but the public 
would become reconciled to the burthen when it had been 
succeeded by improvements of obvious and general advantage. 

With respect to the franchise, Mr. Caron would not object 
to confer it upon tenants who pay a yearly rent of 251. and 
are assessed for municipal purposes, but he would oppose the 
admission of any to the town councils save those who possessed 
a qualification in real estate ; and the former one he conceived 
to be high enough for a fair popular choice. According to his 
view, mere tenants, as their residence might be only temporary, 
would not have a sufficient interest in the welfare of the city. 
If they wished to enter the corporation, they might purchase 
property and stand upon the same footing as others. 

John Malcolm Fraser, esq., merchant, and a common coun- 
cillor of Quebec during the three years of its incorporation, 
was of opinion that the conduct of the council had not satis- 
fied the inhabitants generally. A portion of the council 
consisted of men of strong prejudices and inferior education, 
and, of the educated members, some were violent political 
partisans. Their proceedings had at times been marked by the 
introduction of party politics, and the manifestation of an 
anti-British feeling. (Mr. Fraser alluded to the letter from 
W. L. M'Kenzie mentioned in the evidence of Mr. Baird, and 
to a quarrel that had occurred between the soldiers of the 79th 
regiment and some of the inhabitants of the suburbs, concern- 
ing which the corporation had thought proper to make certain 
representations, considered by the British objectionable in 
themselves, and irregular as regarded the legitimate exercise 
of corporate functions.) 

Mr. Eraser concurred in the sentiments expressed by the 
gentlemen previously examined as to the insufficiency of the 
city revenue, the necessity of a complete and comprehensive 
system of municipal government, with the power of making 



ye-laws subordinate only to the law of the land, and the 
establishment of a city police court for the summary trial of 
petty offences. He likewise deemed it expedient that a new 
measure of incorporation should include an impartial adap- 
tation of the franchise to the capacities of the citizens for 
maintaining a sound local administration. A corporation so 
constituted would, he believed, prove of undoubted benefit 
to Quebec, and he felt assured that the respectable part of 
the inhabitants would not object to being called upon to 
contribute to its support. 

L. T. Macpherson, esq., notary public, considered the Quebec 
corporation defective in its constitution, in consequence of 
more power having been given to those who formed the mass 
of the provincial population than they were capable of using 
for their own good. To the same cause might be attributed 
the failure of all the popular institutions of Lower Canada. 
Still the province stood in need of popular institutions ; 
but, to secure their beneficial operation, the qualifications 
of the elector and the elected should be so clearly understood 
and so accurately defined, as to restrict the possession 
of power to those who were competent to exercise it for the 
welfare of the whole. In order to promote this desirable end, 
he suggested that in all Canadian elections, whether local or 
parliamentary, each duly qualified elector should only possess 
a single vote when more than one representative was to be 
chosen. The effect of this arrangement would be a more equal 
representation. He thought, also, that quorums, small in 
number, should be fixed by statute, so that the minority 
should not be deprived of the power of transacting business 
when the majority did not choose to attend. Were Quebec 
incorporated on such principles, it might, with safety to the 
Crown and advantage to the people, be endowed with all the 
powers and attributes common to British corporations. But 
he held it to be indispensably necessary that the Governor 
and Council should enact, and the Imperial Parliament render 
permanent, the primary laws for the happy government of 
the province ; for laws of this stamp they could never expect 
to obtain from any popular provincial assembly. Extensive 
private interests would always have sufficient influence to 
thwart comprehensive measures, however conducive those 
measures might be to the public good. The prosperity of all 
British North America now depended upon the remedies to 
be devised and sanctioned by the British Parliament. At 
present, with advantages far exceeding those enjoyed by the 
people of an adjacent country, they saw their neighbours 


advancing in improved institutions, arts and wealth, while 
they were poor, feeble and retrograding. 


Jacques Viger, esq., mayor of Montreal during the whole 
period of its incorporation, then held and continues to hold 
the office of road surveyor for the city and parish of Montreal, 
in which capacity he was subject to the council, of which as 
mayor he was the head. A member of the council had on 
one occasion moved that Mr. Viger, as road surveyor, should 
report to Mr. Viger, as mayor, how he had discharged certain 
duties of his office. 

Mr. Viger stated to the commissioners that little interest 
was taken in the municipal elections of Montreal. The British 
party probably made no efforts to gain admission into the 
council, as they could not hope to obtain a majority, else they 
might have succeeded in returning more members than they 
did. The powers of the corporation were too limited. It had 
no police authority, save over the night watch, which was 
altogether impotent for the due protection of the town. The 
city was badly lighted, although a yearly sum of 800?. had 
been expended for that purpose. 

The Montreal gas company offered to supply double the 
quantity of public lights for the same sum, but the expiry 
of the Act of Incorporation prevented an arrangement. Had 
the Act been renewed, the council would have applied to the 
legislature for power to conclude an arrangement with the 
company. Since the demise of the corporation in 1836, 
nothing has been done for lighting the city, as the magis- 
trates have no funds to meet the outlay. 

A corporation to be effective for good should have powers 
more extensive than the former one. The mayor and a certain 
number of councillors ought to be justices of the peace, ex 
officio. All matters of common interest to the citizens should 
be placed under the management of the corporation, and it 
should possess the unfettered right of making bye-laws. It 
might be advisable to give the council the power of appoint- 
ing paid assessors. There being five assessors for the city 
acting independently of each other, there are occasional com- 
plaints of inequality of assessment. The object of an assess- 
ment on real property is to keep up the roads ; but the rate 
of sixpence in the pound is not sufficient to maintain good 
roads in Montreal. The city applied, at one time, to the 
House of Assembly for a grant of 1,000?. in aid of the road 
funds. During the worst part of the year, from the 15th of 



November to the 1st of May, the duty of sweeping the streets 
and clearing off the accumulations of snow and rubbish in 
front of the houses, devolves upon the citizens, who are liable 
to a fine for neglect. 

Mr. Viger saw nothing objectionable in granting the muni- 
cipal franchise to occupiers of houses fairly assessed for 
municipal purposes. A 261. real property qualification seemed 
to him sufiicient for a common councillor ; but persons might 
be justly eligible who paid a rent equivalent, as a test of 
property, to the qualification of real estate. 

The inhabitants of towns would not complain of a larger 
assessment, provided the money were applied to objects of 
general and acknowledged utility. 

The introduction of additional testimony would not throw 
more light upon the working of the corporate system in 
Quebec and Montreal. With reference to the latter city it 
may be remarked, that the corporation satisfied the majority 
of the French Canadians, so far as its administration of affairs 
was concerned, while by the British it was regarded with 
strong dislike. 


Quebec Trinity-house. 

By the permanent Provincial Act 45 Geo. 3, c. 12, the 
corporation of the Trinity-house was erected for ' the better 
regulating of pilots and shipping in the port of Quebec, and in 
the harbours of Quebec and Montreal, and for improving the 
navigation of the river Saint Lawrence, and for establishing 
a fund for decayed pilots, their widows and children.' 

The Trinity Board, which is chiefiy composed of respectable 
merchants, consists of a master, deputy-master and five 
wardens. The officers of the corporation are a registrar and 
treasurer (one person), harbour-master (one of the wardens), 
assistant harbour-master and superintendent of the Cul-de-sac 
(one person), superintendent of pilots (a warden), and a water- 
bailiff. The members of the board, as well as the officers, are 
nominated by the Crown. 

The corporation is empowered to make bye-laws and enact 
penalties for the breach thereof, the fines exacted for violation 
of pilot regulations going to the pilot charity fund ; of the 
remainder, one moiety goes to the informer and the other to 
the provincial chest. The first bye-laws were issued in 1805, 


under the sanction of the then Lieutenant-governor of the 
province, Sir R. S. Milnes. 

Open courts for the transaction of business are held on 
Tuesdays and Fridays. Summons is served by the water- 
bailiff. Charges against pilots are directed by their superin- 
tendent ; prosecutions for all other infringements of Trinity- 
house bye -laws are conducted by the harbour-master. During 
the period of the year when the St. Lawrence is open to 
navigation, the board is a good deal occupied in hearing 

The corporation has a police jurisdiction over wharves and 
landing-places, for the removal of nuisances and the preven- 
tion of accidents to shipping by fire. It has, however, no 
constabulary force for securing the observance of its regula- 
tions. It is the duty of the water-bailiff to enforce the rules 
of the board at the Lower Towti landing-place. 

Mr. E. B. Lindsay, registrar and treasurer to the corpora- 
tion, states that it has for some time experienced a deficiency 
of funds. Application was made to the House of Assembly 
for an Act to authorize the levying of a small tonnage duty, 
to which no opposition would have been offered by the com- 
mercial interest ; but, owing to the political excitement which 
prevailed, no attention was paid to the matter. 

MoNTEEAL Trinity-house. 

The Act which erected the Quebec Trinity-house, empowered 
the corporation to establish a branch at Montreal, which was 
done accordingly ; and this arrangement continued in force 
until the passing of the Provincial Act, 2 Will. 4, c. 24, which 
erected an independent Trinity-house in Montreal, the boun- 
dary of the jurisdiction of the two houses being Pointe du 
Lac, about nine miles above Three Rivers. The latter, a tem- 
porary Act, expired in May 1837, and the government of the 
river has reverted to its former position. 

According to Mr. J. Viger's evidence concerning the Mont- 
real municipal corporation, the separate jurisdiction over the 
beaches and wharves, vested in the Trinity-house and the 
harbour commissioners, occasioned inconvenience by clashing 
with the city authority. 

Montreal Harbour Commissioners. 

Authority was given to the commissioners appointed under 
the Provincial Act, 10 & 11 Geo. 4, c. 28, to borrow money to 
be expended in enlarging and improving the harbour of 



ontreal. By subsequent enactments the authority of the 
commissioners was enlarged. The amount of receipt and 
expenditure, together with all necessary vouchers, are for- 
warded annually to the receiver-general of the province. 

The general state of affairs is explained by Mr. Badgeley, 
secretary to the harbour commissioners, in the following 
communication, bearing date Montreal, 4th September 

' I have the honour to transmit herewith copies of the 
following account of receipt and expenditure, viz. : — 

Dated 31st December 1833 
„ 31st December 1834 
„ 26th October 1835 
„ 20th September 1836 
For 1837 . „ 21st February 1838 

' Also the following statements made up from the above 
and those of the preceding year, viz. : — 

Amount of three loans authorized by Act of the £. s. d. 
provincial legislature, with a detail of the cer- 
tificates granted to the lenders for their re- 
spective sums, and the annual interest accru- 
ing thereon ...... 35,000 - - 

Amount of incidental expenses advanced by the 
provincial government, closing with the year 
1837 630 17 6 

Amount of warrants granted by the government 
in advance to pay the annual interest to the 
holders of the (loan) debentures, &c. . . 7,006 4 2 

' From which latter sum of 7,006Z. 45. 2d. is to be deducted 
the amount of wharfages collected for the years 1835, 1836, 
1837, which did not pass through the hands of the com- 
missioners, nor was any account thereof furnished to them ; 
but the collector of the harbour dues was directed to transmit 
the sum in question to the receiver-general at Quebec, which 
mode still continues. 

' Amount of interest paid to the holders of debentures from 
the commencement until the 5th of July 1837 (exclusive of 
521. 125. Qd. unclaimed), from which is deducted the amount 
of wharfages received by the commissioners for the years 
1832, 1833, and 1834, being 3,903Z. 2s., leaving a balance of 
7,006Z. 4s. 2d. advanced by the government, and correspond- 
ing to the sum stated in the account of government warrants. 


The stopping of the improvements with the close of the year 
1832 has materially affected the harbour revenues, rendering 
them inadequate to meet the interest on the money expended ; 
as during the summer months many of the masters evade 
paying the dues by taking their vessels to the upper part of 
the harbour (beyond the wharves, where they do not incur 
the charge of wharfage), and which, at that season, notwith- 
standing its inconvenience, is accessible for commercial pur- 
poses. The result of the statement shows : — 

£. s. d. 

The debt to individuals bearing inter- 
est is 35,000 - - currency. 

The debt to the Government in ad- 
vance for incidental expenses . 630 17 6 

To the Government in advance, on 
payment of interest . . . 7,006 4 2 

The last subject to the deduction of wharfage for 1835, 1836 
and 1837, as already specified. 

' You will please to observe, that the commissioners have 
to account for two farther warrants for 9521. lis. 6d. each ; 
the one on the 31st January, and the other on the 18th July 
last, from which, deducting 5s. Sd. paid for the fees on the 
two warrants, make 1,905Z. lOs. currency, to pay the interest 
for one year to the 5th July last ; this sum, with the expendi- 
ture of the present season for the works now in progress, will 
be accounted for in the annual statement to be furnished at 
the usual period.' 

Until the works are completed, which will probably be in 
the course of the ensuing year, no correct estimate can be 
made of the revenue to be derived from the harbour of Mon- 
treal. In the opinion of experienced commercial men, the 
rates of wharfage, at present uselessly low, might be quad- 
rupled, without detriment to the port. 

Montreal Gas Company. 

The Act 6 Will. 4, c. 18, which incorporated the company, 
provides, that the gas-works shall at all times be visited and 
inspected by the municipal authorities of the city or their 
deputies, all of whose just and reasonable orders shall be 
obeyed by the company's servants, under a penalty of not 
more than 51., nor less than 21. 10s. currency. 

This provision was probably introduced under the anticipa- 
tion that the public lighting of the city would have been 



intrusted to the company. In the absence of such an arrange- 
ment, the company is oWiged to place a higher price on the 
gas supplied to individual consumers, by whom the increased 
rate of charge is very sensibly felt. 

Montreal Water Company. 

The a£Fairs of this company have passed into the hands of 
a small number of private speculators, who, it is said, give 
satisfaction to the public ; at all events the supply of water 
is good. 


The local government of Three Rivers is administered by 
the unpaid magistracy, who hold weekly sessions, and frame 
such police regulations as they deem necessary. But destitute 
as the magistrates are of the funds requisite for giving even 
due publicity to their regulations, they are quite incapable 
of enforcing them. No police, worthy of the name, is main- 
tained in the town, and its inhabitants suffer accordingly 
from the influx of bad characters, who, expelled from Quebec 
and Montreal, resort to Three Rivers. 

There are two market-places in the borough, one of which 
only is in use. These, with a common about 500 acres in 
extent, under the management of a corporate body chosen by 
the inhabitants, and which is productive of some revenue, 
comprise the whole of the town property. Local improve- 
ments are provided for by voluntary subscription. 

The municipal officers of Three Rivers are, a high con- 
stable (of the district), an inspector of weights and measures, 
and an inspector of chimneys. The last two offices are held 
by the same person. 

There, as elsewhere, stipendiary magistrates are required. 
The unpaid magistrates, engaged in their private affairs, are 
difficult of access ; and as the same persons rarely occupy 
the bench on consecutive days, the public are exposed to the 
evils of contradictory decisions. 

Owing to a provision of the road law, which forbids entrance 
into gardens, orchards, &c. without the consent of the pro- 
prietor, the district grand-voj^er is unable to act in such 
places as Three Rivers, and the improvement of the streets 
is consequently neglected. 




Town of Three Rivers :— Ordinances and Statutes. 








Accidents by fire 




Geo. 3 


Provides against the same in Thre 

Rivers, Quebec and Montreal. 





Amends foregoing ordinance. 




Will. 4 


Establishes fire society in the same 
suspending, so far, the two ordinance 
till 1st May 1838. 

iV^.J5.— Since 1st May 1838, sus 
pended ordinance again in force. 

Police . 




Geo. 3 


Provides for regulation of police ii 
Three Rivers, Quebec and Montrea 
former Acts having expired on Is 
May 1816. 







Authorizes inhabitants to regulate 
concede, &c. &c., common. 







Remedies informality in carrying fore 
going Act into effect. 

»f • • 






Extends provisions of 41 Geo. 3, c. 11 
to surveying and defining of the same 

»» • • 




Geo. 4 


Extends power of conceding, and give 
power of acquiring portion of jesuitj- 

Markets . 






Establishes tAvo markets. 

Wharfingers . 




Will. 4 


Compels them to advertise unclaimec 
goods till 1st May 1834. Continued 
without amendment, by two subse 

quent Acts, till Ist May 1840. 

The Assistant Municipal Commissioners have now con- 
cluded their exposition of the state of Lower Canada, in 
regard to the various branches of local administration falling 
within the scope of their inquiry. In framing this portion of 
their report, they have aimed at giving a succinct statement 
of facts, in terms so clear, and with an arrangement so precise, 
as to be easily understood by persons unacquainted with the 
domestic history and usages of the province. The result of 
the inquiry shows the total absence of any efficient or uniform 
system of internal government. From the passing of the 
Constitutional Act to the period of its suspension, the country 
presents few indications of progressive improvement apart 
from those which are sure to accompany commerce and 
emigration. The representative chamber of the province tried 
its hand at every thing, and constructed nothing durable and 
worthy.* When it ceased to exercise its functions, not a single 

♦ The road law of 1796, which has long outlived its usefulness, was passed 
wth difficulty through the House of Assembly by the influence of the 
executive. It created much discontent among the habitans, who were 
opposed to the grant of labour or money required under the Act for the 
maintenance of the roads. 



popular institution remained capable of aiding the delibera- 
tions of the extraordinary legislature by which it was suc- 
ceeded ; or sustaining the necessary demonstrations of execu- 
tive power during a season of great public emergency. 


The only machinery for the working of a plan of municipal 
government in the province is to be found under the operation 
of the road law and collateral enactments. 

Under the actually existing road law, there are, or may be, 
in every parish or township nine popularly-elected officers 
(overseers of highways), acting separately in as many dis- 
tricts, and collectively for the whole parish or township ; and 
under the expired statute, 5 Geo. 4, c. 3, there were, or might 
have been, 45 officers of like authority, both separate and 
collective. To each of these popularly -elected officers are 
assigned duties which require for their due performance as 
much of education and intelligence as are required for the 
execution of most of the ordinary duties of a municipal 
character. By electing two officers from each subdivision , of 
a parish or township, and distributing between them the 
executive functions for each particular district, and at the 
same time forming the whole into one collective council, 
a tolerably efficient municipal body for ordinary local purposes 
might be called into existence. The surveyor or surveyors may 
be considered the already -constituted head or heads, appointed, 
as at present, by the provincial executive — a reservation of 
authority which, besides being in accordance with the existing 
law, might, in many cases, prove highly advantageous. 

In addition to overseers of highways, there is also in every 
parish or township another body of officers, chosen by popular 
election, namely, inspectors of fences. By reference to the 
duties devolved upon these officers, it will be seen that the 
law requires and expects from them a higher degree of educa- 
tion than from the highway overseers. Both classes of func- 
tionaries are elected for a period of two years, so that in fact 
we have the machinery adequate for accomplishing the objects 
of minor municipal jurisdiction, requiring merely a distribu- 
tion of more various duties, and an alteration of elections, to 
provide against the retirement of more than one -half of the 
local authorities at the same time. The attempt to construct 
out of these materials a good working system of local adminis- 
tration might, owing to the apathy and obtuseness of the 



agency employed, prove a failure ; but at all events, it would 
not be open to the objection of being new-fangled or visionary ; 
for popularly-elected officers now are, and long have been, 
depositaries of legislative, judicial and administrative powers 
for minor municipal purposes over the whole length and 
breadth of the province. It may, moreover, be fairly inferred, 
that an extension of powers (still, however, under the correc- 
tion of the provincial executive), and particularly the control 
of a pecuniar}^ assessment, would lead to a more careful and 
discriminating selection of officers. With respect to this most 
important subject of a pecuniary assessment, it is, we must 
repeat, deeply to be regretted, that the existing legislature of 
the province of Lower Canada, as we have had occasion before 
to remark, is, by the law which constituted it, declared in- 
competent to levy * any tax, duty, rate or impost for any 
purpose whatever '. Such a restriction it is difficult to account 
for, inasmuch, as has been observed, the similarly-constituted 
legislature, which existed before the introduction of the 
Constitutional Act, was, by a special exception, permitted to 
impose local taxes for local purposes. It might have been 
supposed that, in suspending the intermediate system, the 
natural and obvious course would be to fall back upon its 
predecessor, having due regard to the peculiar circumstances 
of the time, which certainly were not of a cast to warrant 
a distrustful and penurious delegation of authority. At all 
events the effect of the prohibition was to delay, if not to 
frustrate, the best designs of a government, whose hope of 
efficiency mainly rested upon prompt and comprehensive 
legislation. No law, whether for the promotion of education, 
registry of propert}^, or of judicature or municipal reform, 
could have been put in operation without the power of local 
taxation, unless indeed fresh and indefensible sanction had 
been given to the old and vicious system countenanced by the 
House of Assembly — ^the application of the imposts levied on 
commerce to every provincial exigency, whether partial or 
general, temporary or enduring. 


There are certain alterations in subordinate departments 
of local government which the Assistant Commissioners feel 
it their duty to recommend for immediate adoption, under 
the persuasion that they will constitute, pro tanto, a decided 
improvement on the present state of municipal administration. 


In recommending partial ameliorations, they do not for 
a moment lose sight of the necessity of those extensive reforms 
which, whatever may be the system of general government, 
are imperatively demanded for the establishment of law and 
order throughout the province. 

The lesser amendments, however, are not only useful 
intrinsically, but they will in nowise interfere with any com- 
plete scheme of municipal improvement that may hereafter 
be adopted, and which will necessarily require time to mature. 
The suggestions for an improved municipal administration fall , 
therefore, under two heads : first, partial amendment ; second, 
general re-organization. 

First. The first head includes the incorporation of the cities 
of Quebec and Montreal, and an amendment of the Road Laws. 

Quebec and Monteeal. 
It is not easy to overrate the benefits that would accrue 
from the incorporation of Quebec and Montreal upon those 
protective and progressive principles on which the European 
municipalities of the middle ages were founded. It has been 
shown, in the preceding part of the report, that, by the Con- 
stitutional Act, a controlling legislative influence was granted 
to the representatives of the Canadian hahitanSy an electoral 
body altogether ignorant of the nature of the trust reposed 
in them, and inveterately hostile to any measure, however 
prospectively advantageous, that might trouble their rude 
repose. It has been sho^n, also, that this controlling in- 
fluence was followed by crude, uncertain and one-sided 
legislation, continued encroachment of the popular branch on 
the other branches of the legislature, and an eventual dis- 
ruption of the friendly social relations subsisting between the 
settlers of diverse origin. The Acts incorporating Quebec and 
Montreal studiously and unjustly excluded the British settlers 
from a fair share of local power in the very strongholds of the 
commercial energy which they themselves had introduced 
into the province. In the whole colony there was not a single 
popular institution through which the British could make 
known their grievances, or develop their capacities for self- 
control. What has been the consequence ? Decreasing 
colonial enterprise and increasing dissatisfaction with the 
Government at home, from whatever party the materials 
of that Government may have been drawn. Destitute of any 
mode of constitutional organization by which they might be 
enabled to lay their complaint before the Imperial Parliament 
or the Executive, the British colonists have been obliged to 


rely for aid on the advocacy of the local press — not always 
wisely guided — or on associations, secret or open, the sure 
indications of a diseased condition of the body politic. The 
simple question at issue is, whether the province shall remain 
French, or stand still until pushed forward by the aggressive 
movements of the United States, or become English in the 
progressive and prosperous action, as well as in the outward 
and visible character of its institutions. As the incorpora- 
tion of Quebec and Montreal, upon principles equitably 
regardful of the claims of property, intelligence and enter- 
prise, would materially tend to promote the latter result, 
while it would remove the plea for associations unrecognized 
by and inconsistent with law, measures should be taken for 
that purpose with as much speed as may consort with the 
secure attainment of the contemplated object. 

The outline of a plan of incorporation for Quebec and 
Montreal is annexed to this report. A scheme of local govern- 
ment for Three Rivers cannot at present be suggested, owing 
to the want of information collected on the spot. 

Amendment of the Road Law. 

Popular election, local supervision, judicial disinterested- 
ness and central responsibility, are the theoretical features 
of the road system, and these are precisely the essential 
requisites for the successful working of municipal institutions 
in a country socially circumstanced as is LoAver Canada. 
A few modifications — ^unimportant probably in the estima- 
tion of ]Dersons unacquainted with the necessities of a new 
country, would afford a grateful relief to the settlers, and 
would bring the promise of theory and the efficiency of practice 
to a closer approximation.* 

These modifications, at least the most important of them, 
are the increase of the number of deputy grand-voyers, with 
perhaps only one grand- voyer for the whole province, and the 
substitution to a certain extent of pecuniary payments for 
road labour. 

With respect to the first modification, it would materially 

* It might be advantageous to vest in the grand- voyer, or his local deputy, 
a discretionary power, A^ithin a limited extent, as to the dimensions both 
of the highways and the ditches ; and, also, as to the moulding and repairing 
of roads. In two sections of country differing so widely in physical charac- 
teristics as the upper seigniories on the one hand, and the lower seigniories 
and townships on the other, legal uniformity as to the matters of detail 
cannot fail to be productive of inconvenience. But with the introduction 
of an improved general system, there must be a thorough revision of every 
branch of the noAv obsolete road laM s. 


diminish the travelling expenses of the grand-voyer or his 
local deputy, and Avould tend to equalize the costs of proces 
verbaux over the whole province : whereas, at present, the 
parts most remote from the seats of district jurisdiction, which 
are generally the poorest, are the most heavily burdened with 
regard to preliminary expenditure, and that sometimes to so 
onerous a degree, as to induce them to dispense with the 
grand-voyer's services altogether. Of course the local depu- 
ties would necessarily absorb all the fees, so as to throw the 
central head on the liberality of the central government. 

The multiplication of local deputies is strongly recom- 
mended by the grand-voyers of the province, and it was 
effected for four years under the sanction of the Act 9 Geo. 4, 
c. 34, s. 3. By the statute which this Act amended and con- 
tinued, viz., 5 Geo. 4, c. 3, s. 4 & 5, the grand-voyer or his 
deputy was empowered to appoint two or three surveyors for 
any parish or township, to act each in a separate division, 
and to authorize the election of not more than fifteen overseers 
in as many separate districts under each surveyor. To this 
enactment we have adverted already. A reasonable recom- 
pense by fees ought to be given to surveyors for the time 
absolutely spent in the discharge of their duty. 

Pecuniary payments ought to be substituted for joint 
labour, whether on front roads or on bye-roads. The advan- 
tages of such a modification of the present system would be 
manifold : — 

First. The proprietors, instead of being tempted, as they 
now are, to choose the worst men, in a practical point of view, 
namely, the men who are least likely to exact a strict per- 
formance of road labour, would be induced to choose the most 
intelligent, honest and energetic of their neighbours, inasmuch 
as, under a fixed rate, similar to that now levied in Quebec 
and Montreal, the difference between a good road and a bad 
one would really entail no cost upon the inhabitants. 

Secondly. The overseers of highways having a much more 
definite duty to perform, and being allowed much less scope 
for discretionary indulgence, might fairly be held by their 
superiors as more directly responsible, and would certainly be 
so held by their constituents. 

Thirdly. The voluntary labour of paid workmen would be far 
more efficient than the reluctant labour of unpaid workmen. 

Fourthly. An incidental advantage would arise to poor and 
industrious men ; as the pecuniary assessment would return 
to them in the shape of wages for labour, more than they 
would pay as a rate. 


Fifthly. There would be another incidental advantage, 
inasmuch as farmers could not be dragged from their lands, 
to the great prejudice of their agricultural operations — ^an 
advantage to be the more gravely considered, in proportion 
to the shortness of the agricultural season, and to the entire 
dependence of most Canadian farmers on each crop as it is 

Sixthly. A third incidental advantage would accrue from 
the substitution of pecuniary assessment for joint labour ; it 
would gradualty diminish the necessity, and even the desire 
of provincial grants for local purposes, which are subversive 
alike of local independence and central efficiencj^ The merits 
of the question may in some degree be appreciated from the 
somewhat analogous practice with regard to private bills in 
the Imperial Parliament ; there being, however, this differ- 
ence, that the operation of the latter is partial, and of the 
former universal, both among representatives and con- 
stituents. The provincial system — ^if system indeed it can 
be called — Pleads both to jobbing in the appropriation and 
waste in the expenditure ; tempts both representatives and 
constituencies to purchase the acquiescence of majorities by 
prostitution of principle ; tends to prevent each individual 
member of the popular branch of the legislature from con- 
sidering himself, according to the true doctrine of the con- 
stitution, a representative of the whole people ; and prompts 
every man to clamour for that spurious administrative 
economy, which is maintained at the expense of efficiency, 
with the view of preserving as large a residue as possible of 
the public funds for general — we might add, eleemosjTiary 

It has been stated by many, if not most of the ^\'itnesses 
before the commission, that pecuniary assessment in the rural 
districts would be unpopular or oppressive. But beyond the 
general fact that the mass of the people dislike taxation, there 
seems to be no ascertained ground for the allegation, at least 
at the present day. Throughout the whole extent of the 
seigniorial parishes, large sums are levied for building and 
maintaining churches, — a proof that there is no such extreme 
scarcity of money among the hdbitans as to bar the collection 
of the very moderate pecuniary assessment that would be 
required for local improvements of obvious and admitted 

But such pecuniary assessment, though in a modified form, 
already exists under the road law of 1796. By 36 Geo. 3, 
c. 9, s. 19, the majority of the overseers of highwaj^s of the 


parish or township may impose a rate on the parties interested 
' when it shall be necessary to pay artificers or undertakers 
for making or conducting the work to be done on any public 
bridge, or to purchase materials for the same '. And by the 
expired Act, 5 Geo. 4, c. 3, s. 7, the majority of the parties 
interested had the same power with respect to all joint labour 
— a power which would have been more generally exerted, 
had not the overseers been obliged to serve notices of the 
requisite meeting on each and every interested party. In 
cases of this description the apportionment generally is not 
based on value, but on extent of property. This basis, whether 
reasonable or unreasonable in the abstract, is equitable in the 
case of a composition for road labour, which service itself 
bears a regular proportion to extent of property, at least in 
the seigniorial districts. In the newer settlements, however, 
some distinction ought to be made between the cleared and 
uncleared portions of any lot or farm, and a register, as has 
been suggested by Mr. Panet, grand-voyer of the Montreal 
district, might be advantageously framed, so as not to require 
alteration for three or four years. 

And here would naturally arise the question as to the 
propriety and expediency of rendering all land, wild or re- 
claimed, liable to the cost of making and repairing roads and 
bridges. By the existing law (36 Geo. 3, c. 9, s. 7), all uncon- 
ceded land and all wild lots in the possession of the original 
grantees of the Cro\^ n are exempted from road duty ; but 
by an Act amending this Act with respect to ' the to^vnships ' 
(3 Geo. 4, c. 19), all granted lands, with the exception of those 
of ' a Protestant clergy ', were placed on precisely the same 
footing. It is to be regretted that a statute so beneficial in 
practice and so just in principle was only a temporary enact- 
ment, and, as such, permitted to die a natural death in 1828. 

With regard to the wild land, the practical Avorking of the 
present system is clearly bad. The resident settler, who is 
generally straitened in means, is compelled by it to make 
roads for the absentee proprietor, who is generally rich, and 
to whom, at all events, the possession of the land is a matter 
of subordinate consideration. The provisions of the expired 
Act, modified perhaps in some particulars, ought to be revived 
in the townships. It ought, moreover, to be extended to the 
unconceded land in the seigniories, wherever and whenever 
the seignior is not competent to declare on oath that he has 
never directly or indirectly refused to concede any land in 
question on the terms prescribed by the old laws of the country ; 
and should such a change of tenure take place as would render 


the seignior not trustee but proprietor, all distinction on this 
head between townships and seigniories ought forth^vith to 

From the errors of the past, we may derive a lesson for the 
future. Institutions essential to the peace and welfare of the 
colony, when it first came under the sovereignty of Britain, 
are still wanting ; and, as the ancestral character of the 
majority of the population remains unchanged, the principles 
upon which these institutions may be successfully established 
continue to be the same. 

The period of deliberation has been too brief to allow the 
Assistant Commissioners to mature any scheme of municipal 
government for a province so disunited in itself, and so com- 
plicated in its relations as Lower Canada. But, in addition 
to an insufficiency of time, there is the farther disadvantage 
of considering a new municipal system as an insulated ques- 
tion ; whereas, under the circumstances of the country, it 
claims to be regarded in connexion with whatever system of 
general government may ultimately be substituted for that 
unhappy shadow of the British constitution, so productive of 
mischief, so barren of good. Institutions, to operate happily, 
should be framed so as to dove-tail with each other, and meet 
in a common correcting and controlling centre. 

In the hope that they will not be charged either with 
fanciful speculation or presumption, the Assistant Com- 
missioners venture to place on record what they wish to be 
viewed merely as hints for a plan, and not as a digested 
arrangement. A minute of Sir Charles Grey, in the Report 
of the Commission of which he was a member, suggests the 
division of Lower Canada into several subordinate ' legis- 
latures ', with one general and controlling legislature. Not 
prepared to agree with this proposition, under the apprehen- 
sion (which may be erroneous) that it comprehends an important 
delegation of legislative authority to sectional assemblies, we 
are still disposed to believe that, by machinery not widely 
dissimilar, but more guarded in its construction, the pro- 
vince might obtain the benefits of improved local adminis- 
tration. Under this impression, we should be inclined to 
recommend — 

First. A new division of the province, on the principle of 
territory and population, with the transfer of the inferior 
district of Gaspe to New Brunswick, taking the river Mitis 
or Rimouski as the boundary line. The division to comprise 
* districts ' and counties, leaving the present parochial and 
township subdivisions unaltered. Each * district ' to be so 


far limited in extent as to lie within the direct and constant 
supervision of an executive head. Proceeding upon this rule, 
there would, probably, be about eight municipal districts in 
Lower Canada. 

Second. Councils chosen in the same way as overseers of 
highwaj^s under the road law, to administer the affairs of 
parishes and townships. 

Third. Councils chosen by the municipalities of parishes 
and townships, from persons possessing the double qualifica- 
tion of education and property, to administer county affairs. 

Fourth. Councils chosen by the county municipalities, from 
educated persons possessing a higher property qualification 
than that required for the county representation, to administer 
district affairs. 

The duties of these various bodies to be of a strictly local 
character and the execution of the duties, as well as the mode 
of executing them, to be provided for and prescribed by 
a code of municipal law. 

Fifth. To assist and temper the action of these municipal 
bodies, as well as to facilitate the due administration of 
justice, courts of monthly sessions (more frequent, if need be) 
^\dth civil and criminal jurisdiction, having paid professional 

Sixth. A board of internal improvement, to audit accounts, 
report upon all applications for aid, and make periodical 
statements to the legislature. 

Seventh. Professional engineers appointed by the Crown, 
to act as superintendents of roads and bridges, in place of the 
unprofessional grand- voyers. 

Eighth. A salaried district chief, appointed by the Crown 
to preside over district council, and report to the board of 
internal improvement and the provincial government. 

Ninth. A county road superintendent appointed by the 
provincial superintendent, paid by fees and acting as a deputy 
grand-voyer, with power to homologate proces verhaux at 
monthly sessions, to preside at county council, and report to 
district chief. 

Tenth. Surveyors of parishes or townships appointed by 
county superintendent, and paid by fees, to preside over their 
respective municipalities, and report to said superintendent. 

None of the municipal bodies to possess the power of 
organizing or controlling a constabulary police. The protec- 
tion of life and property in the rural districts cannot at present 
be withdrawn, without peril, from the hands of the central 


The good to be anticipated from the operation of such 
a system of local administration as has been faintly indicated, 
is the breaking up of jobbing connexions between the hahitans 
and their representatives, and the introduction of habits of 
self-reliance among the former. The frequent interposition 
of responsible executive agencies might be expected to act 
as a stimulus to the inertness of the French Canadians, while 
it would enable the central government to discern, at a glance, 
the condition of the population, and to operate rapidly and 
simultaneously on every division of the province. 

With respect to the pecuniary means for local government 
and improvement, the correct principles of provincial taxa- 
tion were clearly laid down by the merchants and others of 
British origin in 1806. They then contended, in opposition 
to the majority of the House of Assembly, that ' if the sup- 
port of the civil government were not to rest on direct taxes, 
it should, at least, be secured by permanent Acts of indirect 
taxation, as already introduced by the British Act 14 Geo. 3, 
c. 83, and the provmcial Acts 33, 35 & 41 Geo. 3. That 
local establishments, such as court-houses, gaols and houses 
of correction should be defrayed by assessments or indirect 
taxes upon the districts, counties and cities for whose benefit 
they might respectively be required. And that, for the 
general improvement of the country, its agriculture, com- 
merce and communication by land and water with the adjoin- 
ing colonies and foreign states, recourse should be had to 
indirect taxes of temporary duration.' * 

The construction of great public works by loan, as in the 
United States, would, in tranquil times, and under a stable 
provincial government, materially accelerate the physical 
prosperity of Lower Canada. The construction of the canals 
of the State of New York has been carried on chiefly with 
funds derived from loans. The whole amount borrowed is 
about fifteen millions of dollars ; the balance of the debt for 
their construction is now less than five millions ; and the 
Erie and Champlain Canal fund alone yields a net revenue, 
after paying all legitimate charges, and all deficiencies of the 
auxiliary canals, of $718,650 f (doUars). The beneficial effect 
of the loan system is twofold ; it calls into operation indi- 
vidual capital and. enterprise, and gives distant capitalists 
an immediate interest in the welfare of the country. 

The Assistant Commissioners feel bound to declare their 
conviction of the uselessness of all subordinate measures for 

* Political Annals of Lower Canada, 1828. 

t Message of the Governor to the Legislature of the State of NeA\- York. 


the improvement of Lower Canada, however promising in 
appearance, or excellent in design, unless the general govern- 
ment of the province shall be reconstructed, and placed on so 
solid a basis as to enable it to resist the shock of parties, to 
maintain the even com^se of justice, and secure for imperial 
authority the respect which it has lost by long perseverance 
in a blind, wavering and anti-national policy. The present 
moment is peculiarly favourable for the commencement of 
a new era in Canadian administration. Steam navigation has 
so far reduced the distance between England and her North 
x^merican colonies, that the affairs of these most valuable 
dependencies are capable of being conducted with as much 
efficiency as those of the remoter sections of the United 
Eangdom. But it is vain to hope that commerce will thrive, 
emigration increase, or the lesser institutions for social advance- 
ment extend and flourish, until they are assured of the fostering 
care and protection of a firmly -rooted, enlightened and ener- 
getic government. 

Will. Kennedy, 
Adam Thorn, 
Assistant Commissioners of Municipal Inquiry. 

Quebec, 14 November 1838. 


Ordered to be printed June 12, 1839. 
contents of appendix d. 

Commission by the Earl of Durham, appointing Arthur Buller, Esq., to 
proceed with the utmost despatch to inquire into and investigate the 
past and present modes of disposing of the produce of any Estates 
or Funds applicable to purposes of Education in Lower Canada, &c. 
Report of the Commissioner of Inquiry into the state of Education in 
Lower Canada, &c. 
♦Returns made to Education Commission, 1838. 
fReport of Mr. Dunkin, the Secretary to the Commission. 
♦Plan of Seigniory of Cap de la Magdeleine. 


*Copy of a Letter from the Earl of Durham to the Marquis of Normanby, 

dated 31 May 1839. 
♦Report from the Chief Secretary, on the Commutation of the Feudal 

Tenures in the Island of Montreal, and other Seigniories in the 

possession of the Seigniory of St. Sulpice of Montreal. 
♦Ordinance of the Governor-general and Special Council of Lower Canada, 

for incorporating the Semmary of St. Sulpice of Montreal. 
♦Report from Mr. Turton, on the Establishment of a Registry of Real 

Property in Lower Canada. 

[The sections marked with an asterisk have not been reprinted.] 
t Extract only reprinted. 



VICTORIA, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom 
of Great Britain and Ireland Queen, Defender of the 

To Arthur Buller, Greeting : — 
Whereas it is highly expedient that an inquiry should be 
made into the means of education enjoyed by Our subjects 
in Our Province of Lower Canada, and into the amount, 
nature and application of the produce of any estates or funds 
which may have been set apart for, or may be applicable to, 
purposes of education, and whether the same have been 
employed in the most beneficial manner for the said purposes : 
And whereas it is also highly expedient and desirable, that 
such a system of education should be established as may 
most conduce to the diffusion of knowledge, religion and 
virtue : Know ye, therefore, that We, reposing great trust 
in your zeal, ability and discretion, have nominated, con- 


stituted and appointed, and by these presents do nominate, 
constitute and appoint you, the said Arthur Buller, to proceed 
with the utmost despatch to inquire into and investigate the 
past and present modes of disposing of the produce of any 
estates or funds set apart for or applicable to purposes of 
education in the said Province of Lower Canada, and into the 
present means of education enjoyed by, or within reach of. 
Our subjects in the said Province : And Our further will and 
pleasure is, that you, after due examination of the premises, 
do and shall, as soon as conveniently may be, report to Us, 
under your hand and seal, what you shall find touching or 
concerning the premises, upon such inquiry as aforesaid ; 
and also that you shall suggest such alteration, modification 
and extension of the sj^stem of education at present prevailing 
in Our said Province, or such other management of any 
estates or funds applicable to such purposes of education, 
as may in your judgment appear likely to promote the objects 
aforesaid ; and for the better discovery of the truth in the 
premises. We do by these presents give and grant to you 
full power and authority to call before you such persons as 
you may deem necessary, and to inquire of the premises, 
and every part thereof, by all other lawful ways and means 
whatsoever : And We do also give and grant to you full 
power and authority to cause all persons having in their 
custody any records, orders, regulations, books, papers or 
other writings relating to, or in anywise connected with, 
the premises, to bring and produce the same before you ; 
and for your assistance in the due execution of this Our 
Commission, We do hereby authorize you to nominate and 
appoint such person or persons as you shall think fit to be 
Assistant Commissioner or Assistant Commissioners for the 
purposes aforesaid, or any of them, and to delegate to him 
or them such and so many of the powers hereinbefore vested 
in 3'ou as may seem expedient : And Our will is, and We do 
hereby direct and ordain, that the person or persons so 
nominated by you shall possess and exercise any powers and 
authorities so as aforesaid delegated to him or them, in as 
full and ample a manner as the same are possessed and may 
be exercised by you under the authority of these presents : 
And We do hereby further authorize and empower you, at 
your discretion, to appoint such person as Secretary to this 
Our Commission as to you shall seem proper. 

In testimony whereof. We have caused these Our Letters 
to be made patent, and the Great Seal of our said Province 
of Lower Canada to be hereunto affixed. 


Witness, Our right trusty and right well-beloved John 
George Earl of Durham, Viscount Lambton, &c. &c., Knight 
Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Military Order of the 
Bath, one of Our Most Honourable Privy Council, and 
Governor-general, Vice-admiral and Captain-general of all 
Our Provinces within and adjacent to the Continent of North 
America, &c. &c. &c. &c. 

At Our Castle of St. Lewis, in Our City of Quebec, in 
Our said Province of Lower Canada, the 4th day of July, 
in the year of our Lord 1838, and in the second year of 
Our reign. 

D. Daly, Secretary of the Province. 

REPORT of the Commissioner of Inquiry into the 
State of Education in Lower Canada. 

My Lord, Quebec, November 15, 1838. 

In the instructions given in 1835 by Lord Glenelg to the 
Canadian Commissioners, his Lordship, after pointing out 
the importance and the difficulty of their inquiry into the 
state of education, concludes by observing, — ' This is a task, 
the due performance of which requires so intimate an acquaint- 
ance with the character and wants of the people, that I doubt 
whether, within the time of your residence in Canada, it will 
be possible for you to be completely prepared to form a 
deliberative conclusion over a question thus comprehensive.' 

If any doubt could be entertained of the sufficiency for such 
a purpose of the period which was then contemplated by his 
liordship, but small results can reasonably be expected from 
the labours of the commission with which I had the honour 
of being charged, when it is borne in mind that they only 
commenced on the 1st of August, and closed in the early part 
of the following November, and that the difficulties, which 
were anticipated in the case of the Canadian Commissioners, 
had been greatly aggravated by the political events which 
intervened between the two periods. Had I been aware that 
my time and opportunities were to be so abridged, I should 
have entered upon the various considerations involved in 
this extensive inquiry separately, and in the order suggested 
by their importance and connexion ; thereby enabling myself 
to report information, which, if extending only over part of 
the subject, would still have been complete as far as it went, 
and would to that extent have furnished materials for 
immediate legislation. But anticipating no interruption ; 


imagining that the whole inquiry lay before me, and finding it 
so divided as to admit of the simultaneous labour of a variety 
of different parties, I thought I should best economize my 
time by putting each of such parties in possession, as early as 
possible, of the nature of the information which I sought 
from them, and thus enabling every part of the inquiry to 
be in progress at the same time. The doing this, however, 
in a convenient form, and the previous necessity of making 
myself master of each point, were works of so much labour, 
that, by the time I was called upon to relinquish my task, 
I found that, though every thing was set in train, nothing 
had been completed. 

I have nevertheless succeeded in eliciting some information. 
It is no doubt too scanty to deserve the form and name of 
a report, and unfortunately its authenticity, even to the 
small extent that it goes, stands unattested by the formal 
evidence of any witnesses, because, although I was in daily 
communication with the leading authorities on this subject, 
in Quebec, I abstained from committing their answers to 
paper till I should be in a position to question them upon all 
the points to which their information extended. 

The subject of Canadian education naturally divides itself 
under tAvo general heads : the state in which it has been in 
former times, and now is, and that to which it is proposed 
to raise it hereafter. 

To the Catholic Church Canada is indebted for all its early 
scholastic endowments ; indeed, with the exception of M'Gill's 
college, for all that at present exist. The ample estates and 
active benevolence of the Jesuits, of the seminaries of Montreal 
and Quebec, and of various nunneries and their missions, 
were devoted to the education of the people. It is impos- 
sible to pay too high a tribute to the merits of this most 
exemplary Church. Its existence has ever been beneficially 
felt, and its career has been marked throughout by the most 
faithful discharge of its sacred duties, and the most unde- 
viating allegiance to the British Crown. 

The Jesuits' estates, however, soon ceased to be available 
to the beneficent objects of their grantors. The British 
Government, on the dissolution of that order, entered into 
possession ; and, not content with diverting their proceeds 
from their original destination, unfortunately adopted the 
mode of appropriation the most obnoxious possible to that 
part of the population for whose benefit they were first granted, 
and who were the most clamorous for their restitution. 

The first proposal of the Government was to present them 

13323 R 


to Lord Amherst, by way of compensation for his military 
services in the reduction of Canada. This it at length aban- 
doned ; not, however, until after a long struggle, and after 
the grant had been actually made out in favour of his Lord- 
ship. Nor were the French Canadians alone in their com- 
plaints. At the first session of the newly-constituted legislature, 
in 1792, a petition, signed wholly or in greater part by the 
inhabitants of British origin, was presented to the House of 
Assembly from the city and county of Quebec, setting forth 
the original destination of the Jesuits' estates, and sho^^ing, 
that, owing to their diversion, the province was utterly with- 
out the means of education. An address to his Majesty 
Geo. HI., upon this petition, was imanimously adopted by 
the Assembly and transmitted to England, but no answer was 
received till upon the presentation of a similar address on the 
following year, the Governor informed them, that, in con- 
sequence of the previous one, the claims of the province had 
been considered by his Majesty in Council, and that the result 
of that consideration had been an order to take possession of 
these estates for the Crown. He concluded by suggesting, 
that possibly any further applications on the subject might 
be inconsistent with the accustomed respect of the House of 
Assembly for the decision of his Majesty on matters connected 
Avith his prerogative. 

Accordingly, the subject was dropped for the moment. 
However, as it was resumed almost annually from that period 
to the final surrender of the estates to the Provincial Legis- 
lature, in 1832, it will be more convenient to dispose at once 
of this part of the question by presenting certain facts reported 
by a committee of the House of Assembly in that last-men- 
tioned year, in which the grievances, as far as relates to the 
misappropriation of this fund, are brought together, and, it 
would seem, fully substantiated. 

It appears that, from the year 1800 to 1831, the gross 
receipts in respect of the estates amounted to 49,000^. : of 
this 8,650Z. odd were expended in their management ; 6221. 
in pensions ; for imknown services (which in fact comprised 
an allowance to the then Attorney-general for his expenses 
in going to England to defend himself against the impeach- 
ment of the House of Assembly), 1,719?. ; law expenses con- 
nected with M'Gill's college, a Protestant institution, 780/. ; 
the maintenance of a Protestant chaplain (authorized in 
a despatch of Sir George Murray, dated 2d Jime 1828, 984:1. ; 
building Protestant churches, 9,793?. There appears certainly 
an item of 12,389?. for the support of three schools ; but it 


should be remarked that these were all what the Catholics 
looked upon as purely Protestant establishments, and were 
by them avoided as such. The English Government might 
maintain that in these appropriations it merely exercised the 
right which it undeniably possessed of doing what it liked 
with its own ; but it cannot be matter of surprise that the 
Catholics of Canada should have felt discontented, when they 
saw the great Catholic legacy of their forefathers thus con- 
verted into a fund for the establishment of a rival Church. 
At length, after years of incessant struggling. Lord Goderich 
announced, in his despatch of the 7th July 1831, the deter- 
mination of the Crown to resign to the Colonial Legislature, 
for the purposes of education exclusively, the Jesuits' estates 
(with the exception of the barracks, and even these on con- 
dition of others being built), and the then existing balance in 
respect of them. His Lordship then goes on to mention, that 
two sums, the one of 7,154Z. odd, and the other of 1,200/. odd, 
had lately been recovered from the estate of Mr. John Caldwell, 
and directs that both shall be placed at the disposal of the 
Legislature, the former for general purposes, and the latter, 
with reference to principles previously noticed, for purposes 
of education exclusively. The reason of this distinction is 
rather curious : it appears that the two sums were recovered 
from different estates : on the former the Government had 
claims on the ground of Mr. J. Caldwell's default as receiver- 
general. These claims, however, were posterior to those of 
several private individuals, and therefore were of no value. 
The prior claim of all was that of ' the Jesuits' estates ', to 
which, for a debt incurred as their treasurer, both properties 
had been mortgaged by Mr. J. Caldwell's father. The Crown 
accordingly effected the recovery by availing itself of its 
capacity of proprietor of the Jesuits' estates, to sue Mr. J. 
Caldwell, as heir-at-law to his father, for this debt. As regards 
the smaller property, it never having come into Mr. J. Cald- 
well's hands, and not being, therefore, liable for his default 
as receiver-general, the claim of ' the Jesuits' estates ' to the 
1,200Z. recovered out of it was unopposed. However, there is 
really no distinction between these two claims of the Jesuits' 
estates : both were equally good : the only difference is, that 
against the one there were no pretensions to set up at all, 
and, against the other, none that had the slightest show 
of legal weight, both being founded on the same original 

Reverting to Lord Goderich's despatch, it must not be 
forgotten that the larger sum of 7,154/. was directed by his 



Lordship to be placed at the disposal of the legislature for 
general purposes. 

A committee of the House of Assembly, by their report, 
dated 7th February 1832, after finding, among other things, 
that both the above sums mentioned in Lord Goderich's 
despatch were then in the hands of the receiver-general, con- 
clude by recommending that they shall both be carried to the 
account of the Jesuits' estates, &c. &c. 

Accordingly, in piu-suance of this report, and embodjing 
every one of its recommendations, is passed the 2 Will. 4, 
c. 41, whereby it is enacted, ' That all the monies arising 
out of the Jesuits' estates then in or that might thereafter 
come into the hands of the receiver-general, should be placed 
in a separate chest, &c., and should be applied to the purposes 
of education exclusively.' Now, it is clear that both sums 
in question did arise out of the Jesuits' estates, and that both 
were then in the hands of the receiver -general. 

Resides (waiving the benefit of all this argument) Lord 
Goderich, having left the larger sum to the disposal of the 
legislature for general purposes, the legislature selected, of 
their own free choice, as is clear from the above report 
of their committee, those of education ; and surely they come 
under the head of general purposes. 

Nevertheless, in the face of this Act, concurred in by both 
Houses, and assented to by the Governor, and as authentic 
a law as ever law was, in the following September, the appro- 
priation which appears to have been contemplated by Lord 
Goderich was actually enforced by order of Colonel Craig, the 
then Civil Secretary, and the 7,154?. transferred to the general 
fund of the province. The other injunction of the Act, as to 
keeping the future balances of these estates in a separate 
chest, has been no better observed. They have been invari- 
ably mixed with the other public revenue, a separate account 
only being kept to show their amount. 

By this account it appears that the balance on the 10th 
October 1838 had accumulated to 13,436/. 4^. 6id. If to this 
is to be added, as it unquestionably ought, the 7,154?. currency, 
or 6,439?. 55. lO^d. sterling, the whole fund applicable to 
education, in respect of the Jesuits' estates, will amount 
to 19,875Z. 105. 4:d. sterling. 

As regards the condition annexed to the surrender of the 
Jesuits' barracks, I fear it is not capable of fulfilment. I com- 
municated with the military authorities on the subject, and 
was informed that the Crown was in possession of no land 
within the walls, where barracks must be, sufficient for their 


site ; and of course it would be bad economy in the province, 
with a view to getting back the lost property, to incur, first 
of all, the expense of purchasing land in the town already 
built upon, pulling down the buildings, and then erecting 
new barracks, and afterwards that of pulling down the old 
ones and raising more profitable buildings on their site. The 
most equitable arrangement, I should submit, would be for 
the Crown to come forward now and pay the proper market 
price for what it has so long withheld. 

A full description of these estates will be found, in a tabular 
form, in the Appendix to this Report, (Letter A.), as also 
a minute criticism of their past management, and suggestions 
for their future improvement. This has been the undivided 
labour of Mr. Dunkin, the secretary to the commission, to 
whose unremitting exertions in this and other departments 
of the inquiry, not only during the continuance, but for some 
months subsequent to the expiration of the commission, I am 
indebted for much of the information I am able to supply. 

To take up the order of events where it was broken off, the 
hopes of the friends of education in the province, which had 
been grievously disappointed by the Governor's recommenda- 
tion in 1800 to abstain from any further complaints, were 
fully revived by his announcing, in his speech of the follow- 
ing year, the benevolent intentions of the Imperial Govern- 
ment. ' With great satisfaction I have to inform you, that 
his Majesty, from his paternal regard for the welfare and 
prosperity of his subjects of this colony, has been graciously 
pleased to give directions for the establishing of a competent 
number of free schools, for the instruction of their children in 
the first rudiments of useful learning, and in the English 
tongue, and also, as occasion may require, for foundations of 
a more enlarged and comprehensive nature ; and his Majesty 
has been further pleased to signify his royal intention, that 
a suitable proportion of the lands of the Crown should be set 
apart, and the revenue thereof applied to such purposes.' 

The 41 Geo. 3, c. 17, an Act founded on these promises, 
and intituled, ' An Act for the establishment of Free Schools 
and the advancement of Learning in the Province,' was 
immediately passed. It will be found abstracted in Appendix, 
(Letter B.), No. 1. The following are its principal provisions. 

The Governor is empowered to erect a corporation, to be 
called ' The Royal Institution for the advancement of Learn- 
ing ', with all necessary powers for holding land in mortmain, 
&c., to be composed of trustees to be appointed by the Governor. 
To this corporation the entire management of all schools and 


institutions of royal foundation in the province, as well as 
the administration of all estates and property which may be 
appropriated to the said schools, is committed. The sanction 
of the Governor is required to all rules and statutes which 
may be made for the schools by the trustees, and for the 
government of the masters and scholars. He may establish 
one or more free schools in each parish or township, as he may 
see fit, upon the application of the inhabitants, or a majority 
of them, to that effect, and he appoints the masters, and 
orders their salaries, after the conveyance of the school-house 
to the trustees, which is to be done immediately upon their 
completion ; the expense of the erection of the houses to be 
equally apportioned among the inhabitants. 

In 1803 the promised grants of land, by which the con- 
templated schools were to be supported, never having been 
made, the Executive Council recommended to the Governor 
that 16 townships of the waste lands of the Crown should be 
appropriated for this purpose. In answer to this recom- 
mendation, the province received the same year an assurance 
that 20,000 acres should be granted to each of the cities of 
Quebec and Montreal for the support of a seminary, and that 
immediate steps should be taken in the matter. These steps, 
however, never were taken, the grants of land never made, 
and the Act of 1801 remained a dead letter. 

Complaints of this bad faith have never ceased. In answer 
to one of them, as late at 1831, Lord Goderich, after admitting 
that grants of land had been promised by the Crown, adds, 
* that of course such promises are binding and must be carried 
into effect, unless there are circumstances, of which he was 
not then apprized, which might have cancelled the obligation 
contracted in 1801, or which may have rendered the fulfilment 
of it at that time impracticable.' 

However, this admission was followed by no better results. 
Up to this moment the only Acts of the British Government, in 
respect of Canadian instruction, have been the wholesale 
seizure, and the partial restoration, of the Jesuits' estates. 
At length the House of Assembl}^ determined to take up this 
question, and passed a Bill, which, however, was thrown out 
by the Legislative Council. Its principal features are the 
same as those which distinguish the Elementary School Acts 
that subsequently came into operation, and to which I shall 
shortly call your Excellency's more particular attention. Two 
of its provisions, namely, those contained in the 11th section, 
are worthy of notice. They both relate to the master ; one 
requiring that, among other qualifications, he shall bring 


a certificate of loyalty, and the other fixing his salary at 601. 
This latter particular I advert to, because it shows what far 
juster notions were entertained in those days of the com- 
petent provision for a teacher, than appears to have been the 
case in later times. An abstract of this Bill will be found in 
Appendix (B.) No. 2. 

In 1818 another Bill was passed by the Assembly. This, 
after reciting the necessity of elementary schools, and the 
advantage of subjecting them to local control, vests the 
trusteeship of those created under its provisions in a corpora- 
tion, consisting of the rector, curate or priest, &c., with the 
four churchwardens last appointed, of the Church of England 
or the Roman Catholic Church, the seigneur primitif and 
senior justice of the peace, who were to report annually to 
the inhabitants. A sum of 200?. was to be granted from the 
provincial treasury to the trustees of every parish or town- 
ship in which a house had been built and opened, sufiicient for 
the residence of a master, and the instruction of 30 children. 
The school was to receive no further support from the legis- 
lature, but was entitled to one-fourth of the yearly revenues 
of the fabrique, until its yearly income from other sources 
should amount to 100/. ; and the master was to be paid by 
fees from the children, never, however, at a rate exceeding 
55. per month from each. This Bill, {see Appendix (B.) No. 3,) 
after some amendments by the council which were concurred 
in, was reserved for the Royal Assent, since which it was 
never heard of. A similar fate attended two similar Bills 
the two following years. 

Up to this period the corporation contemplated by the 
41 Geo. 3, having never been erected, letters patent were issued 
for that purpose in October 1818. The Protestant Bishop of 
Quebec was named the principal of the institution, and certain 
other trustees from time to time appointed to act with him. 

Great stress has been laid upon the two following rules, 
which are among the first they made, as indicative of the 
liberal spirit in which they entered on their duties : * That 
every school should be placed under the immediate inspec- 
tion of the clergy of the religion professed by the inhabitants 
of the spot, and that, where they might be of different 
persuasions, the clergy of each church should have the super- 
intendence of the children of their respective communities.' 
' That a regular superintendence of the schools was assigned 
to visitors named by the corporation (one or more to be the 
minister or ministers of the parish or township), who were to 
report to them every six months the number and progress of 


the scholars, the conduct of the masters, and generally on 
the state of the schools.' 

The institution entered upon the management of all the 
then existing schools supported by Government, and con- 
tinued from year to year, but very slowly, to augment their 
number. This remained the sole legislative provision for 
education up to the year 1824. It will be perhaps better 
again to break in upon the regular course of events, and pursue 
the history of the Royal Institution to its end, disencumber- 
ing it from the other systems which were for some years 
co-existent with it, and by which it was finally absorbed. 
That it failed entirely is admitted on all hands, and there is 
no disagreement as to the immediate cause of failure, namely, 
its unpopularity with the French Canadians and the Catholic 
Church. This unpopularity was founded on the exclusively 
British and Protestant character by which, it was asserted, 
its organization and management were distinguished. A com- 
mittee of the House of Assembly, appointed in 1824 to inquire 
into its operation, reported, among other things, that, out of 
its 20 trustees, only five, and onlj^ 22 out of its 81 school 
visitors, were Canadians. In spite of the apparent liberality 
of the rules, this constitution of the authorities, by whom 
they were to be carried into effect, inspired such jealousies, 
and so offended the religious and national antipathies of 
the Canadians, that they withdrew their confidence from the 
institution, and rarely applied for schools under its direction. 
And, indeed, this was a natural enough result. Suppose 
the proportions of the members of the corporation and of the 
visitors, as regards their national origin, had been reversed, 
and that the Catholic bishop had been placed at its head, 
what would have been the popularity of such an institution 
with the Protestants and the British ? 

In the townships the system natiu-ally worked better, and 
the demand for schools was proportionately great. 

In 1827 an attempt was made to divide the board of the 
institution into two committees, composed of an equal number 
of members, and possessing equal privileges ; the new one to 
be entirely Catholic, under the presidency of the Catholic 
bishop, and to have the exclusive management of all Catholic 
schools. After the two parties had with some difficulty been 
brought to acquiesce in this arrangement, it was discovered 
that there were some legal impediments in the way of carrj - 
ing it into effect, and a Bill for the repeal of such parts of 
the 41 George 3, as interposed these impediments, was sug- 
gested by Sir James Kempt and brought into the Assembly, 


but soon after dropt. An abstract of this Bill is given, 
Appendix B. No. 5. 

It appears, from successive reports of committees, that the 
number of schools under the Royal Institution, after a certain 
time, diminished rather than increased. In 1827 they amounted 
to 82, of which 64 were Protestant, and only 18 Catholic. In 
1832 there were but 72, in which there were only five Canadian 
masters ; and in 1834 the whole number was reduced to 63. 
The last application for a new school to the institution was 
in 1828. 

This decline is easily to be accounted for, by the greater 
popularity of the school system which came into operation in 
1829, and of those which succeeded it. A sum, varying 
usually from 1,800/. to 2,000Z., was annually voted to the 
trustees of the corporation for the support of their schools 
up to 1832, when it was reduced to 1,2651. Since this latter 
period the Royal Institution fell into the general elementary 
school system, and its schools were supported and managed in 
the same manner as those thereby created, with the exception 
that the corporation was still permitted to exercise the powers 
in other cases intrusted to trustees elected by the localities. 

The corporation has now no other function than the trustee- 
ship of M'Gill's college, which establishment will be noticed 

I have shown that, from the moment the Royal Institution 
came into operation, systematic attempts were annually made 
by the House of Assembly to substitute some other more 
popular management. 

In addition to the Bills, with this view, of 1818, 1819 and 
1820, which, after being passed by both Houses of the Pro- 
vincial Legislature, were left unnoticed by the Home Govern- 
ment, two others, brought up in 1821 and 1823, were thrown 
out by the Legislative Council. 

At this period a committee, reporting upon the then lament- 
able state of education in the province, represent that in many 
parishes not more than five or six individuals can write, and 
that, generally, not above one-fourth of the entire population 
can read, and one-tenth write, and that very imperfectly. 

At length, in 1824, the Assembly so far succeeded as to 
carry through a Bill, which became the 4 Geo. 4, c. 31, and is 
commonly known by the name of the ' Fabrique Act '. By 
this the fabriques, or local corporations, established in each 
Roman Catholic parish, by which the temporalities of the 
parish church are administered, are authorized to establish 
one or more schools in each parish of the province according 


to its population, and to have the sole management of 

They are tether authorized to purchase and hold property 
to a certain amount, real and personal, for the support of these 
schools, and, until such property is acquired, may apply to 
that purpose one-fourth of their revenue. This Act will be 
found abstracted, Appendix, (Letter B.) No. 4. But it can 
hardly be said to have ever come into operation. In some 
parishes the fabriques were too poor, and in most, I have 
been assured, the existence of the Act was unknown. Like 
that established under the Royal Institution, the fabrique 
school-system became absorbed in those of a more general 
and popular character, which were shortly after established. 
The first of these, which forms a remarkable epoch in the 
history of Canadian education, was established by the 9 Geo. 4, 
c. 46. It will be observed that all the abortive attempts made 
from 1818 up to this period, as well as the Act of 1824, had 
alone in view the wants of the French Canadians, which were 
virtually untouched by the Royal Institution, and which 
undeniably called for urgent relief. It is true, that, as regards 
the receipt, at starting, of a certain sum of public money, the 
Protestant settlements were put on the same footing as 
the Catholic ; but reliance for the subsequent support of the 
schools was placed first of all upon the fabriques, a fund which 
only existed in Catholic parishes, and eventually on charitable 
endowments, which were only to be expected from the greater 
wealth and zeal of the Catholic Church. 

Imperfect as the provisions of these Bills were for the 
erection of any thing approaching a sound and general system 
of education, no fault can be found with the spirit in which 
they were devised by the Assembly. It appears to have been 
one of fairness and sincerity, and liable to none of the imputa- 
tions which attach to similar proceedings of that body in 
later times. 

By the Act of 1829 the establishment and sole manage- 
ment of schools in their respective parishes and townships 
was confided to five trustees, elected by the resident land- 
holders eligible to vote at elections. These trustees were 
empowered to hold property belonging to the school, and to 
receive benefactions. Half the expense of erecting school - 
houses, if not above 50Z., is to be advanced from the public 
chest on the certificate of the trustees. 

A salary of 20Z. is to be given to every master teaching 
20 pupils, and a further allowance of 105. a head for poor 
children, provided their number does not exceed 50, nor fall 


short of 20. The trustees were requhed to report annually 
to the legislature. — [See Abstract, Appendix (B. 6.)] 

Under this Act, which was to be in force for three years, 
there was no provision for visitatorial inspection. 

The trustees, who in very few instances could write them- 
selves, as is proved by the almost invariable use of marks 
instead of signatures in their returns, had the power of appoint- 
ing and removing the masters ; in short, the entire control 
of the schools. It is true that they were required to make 
annual returns to the legislature ; but then nothing was more 
easy, and, I have been informed by many persons, nothing 
was more common, than for them to make false returns. 

In many schools where there were not 20 scholars bona fide 
taught gratis (the number requisite before the gratuity of 105. 
a head was to be granted), I was assured that it was a very 
usual device of the master to ask of his neighbours, or of 
another school, the loan of a sufficient number of children to 
satisfy this condition. Indeed, where children were scarce, 
parents were known to lend themselves to this good-humoured 
arrangement. The trustees, when they knew all this, generally 
connived at it willingly enough, because they generally wished 
Avell to the master, who was of their own appointment, and 
because the gratuity did not come out of their pockets, but, 
on the contrary, was prettj^ sure to find its way into them, 
the master being very frequently in their debt, and, as they 
well knew, having no other means of paying them. 

In 1830 and 1831, two other Acts were passed, slightly 
amending and explaining the provisions of that of 1829. By 
the latter, the Governor was empowered to appoint 19 visitors, 
who with the members of the House of Assembly resident in 
the country, and the resident rector or curate of the parish, 
were to di^ade the country into school districts, visit the 
schools annually, and report their state to the legislature, 
with any recommendations they might be disposed to make. 

Schools rose rapidly under the Act of 1829. In that year 
48 houses were built, under its provisions, and 381 schools 
received the Government allowance. In 1830, 60 more houses 
were built, and the number of elementary schools increased 
to 899. In 1829, the whole cost of education to the province 
was 13,785Z. I6s. M., including, in addition to the expenses 
of the elementary schools, 2,115Z. lOs. for the 84 under the 
Royal Institution, and 5,250?. Ss. for special grants. In 1830, 
the gross amount under these same heads was increased to 
26,019?., and in 1831, the whole number of elementary schools 
was 1,216, and the whole cost of education 32,470/. 


It is time here to explain the meaning of these special 
grants. The general educational Acts which have been noticed 
were meant to embrace only the elementary schools in the 
rural districts. Many of those, originally established by 
voluntary associations in the three towns of Montreal, Quebec, 
and Three Rivers, as well as sundry superior academies and 
colleges, dispersed over various parts of the province, were 
the subjects of separate annual appropriations. The first of 
these was in 1823, when 200?. was granted to a school in 
Quebec under the management of the Education Society 
in that town. In the following year there was only this same 
grant. In 1825, a like sum was also given to the British and 
Canadian school at Montreal. Every subsequent year fresh 
institutions received similar aid, and the grants under this head 
have been shown, in 1830, to have increased to 5,2501. 3s. 

In 1831, the House of Assembly appointed a standing com- 
mittee of 11 members (five to be a quorum), to report from 
time to time on all subjects connected with education. 

The Act of 1829 having expired in May 1832, the 2 WHl. 4, 
c. 26, was passed for the continuance of the system for two 
more years. Before noticing the peculiar provisions by which 
this Act is distinguished from its predecessors, it will be proper 
to advert to the reasons given for such distinction by the 
Education Committee. In 1831, they report, ' that they 
cannot but regret that they have had evidence that in several 
instances too much dependence has been placed on legislative 
aids, and, in some cases, to a degree which seems to have had 
the effect of relaxing the exertions which were formerly made. 
Your committee cannot too strongly impress upon the House 
the mischiefs which would result from such a dependence, 
and placing the public money in the hands of societies or 
individuals practically liable to no sufficient responsibility, 
or regular or strict accountability, unless they at the same 
time have to apply a considerable portion of their own money 
along with that of the public' 

The same committee, remonstrating against large legis- 
lative grants, dwells on ' the abuses and corruption which 
uniformly attend the lavish expenditure of public money. 
Education itself suffers in the estimation of the public ; false 
ideas are spread abroad among the people, that education is 
rather an object which concerns the community than them- 
selves individually, and it is undervalued, while in reality it 
is become nearly as needful in the present state of things 
in this province as religious instruction, or instruction | in 
the means of gaining an honest livelihood, for which it is the 


bounden duty of every head of a family to provide to the 
utmost of his power. To draw the money from the people 
by taxes, to be restored to them for these purposes, after 
undergoing all the diminution of the expenses of collection, 
management and waste, would soon impoverish them without 
effecting the object in view.' 

In 1832 the Committee report, that the increasing applica- 
tions for public money render certain regulations necessary, 
and as warning to the public that less reliance than thereto- 
fore must be placed in aids from the general funds, and more 
from the localities immediately interested ; and that, for 
these reasons, it is desirable, 1st, to grant no new allowances, 
except on the most urgent grounds, but rather to diminish 
those already granted ; 2nd, to confine aids for elementary 
instruction in the towns, as much as possible, to one elemen- 
tary school connected in some degree with one of each of the 
principal religious denominations, where all the poorer classes 
may have easy admission. It goes on ' to regret that the 
applications during that session were nearly as numerous and 
great in amount as in the previous one. The extraordinary 
efforts which were made by the legislature under the unfor- 
tunate state of things which had so long retarded education 
in the province, and in a prosperous state of the public funds, 
have Avidely spread abroad the idea that the expenses of the 
education of youth Avere to be defrayed out of the public 
revenue ; and the abuses consequent thereon have, no doubt, 
in some instances, made those who profited by them over- 
anxious for their continuance. The present state of the 
public funds, however, will force a return to more correct 
notions and practice. Your committee cannot conceive that 
it will ever be expedient to draw money from the industry of 
the people, by an expensive process, to be returned to them 
in greatly diminished amount, for objects for which they can 
apply it more certainly, more equitably, and with greater 
economy, under their own immediate control.' 

In this report the committee remark, that the proportion 
of children attending school in Lower Canada is one in 12 ; 
whereas, in the neighbouring state of New York, it is one in 
four. By the 2 Will. 4, c. 26, founded on this latter report, 
1321 districts were adopted as laid out by the visitors appointed 
the preceding year. 

To a school in each of these districts, and also to a separate 
girls' school in that district in every Roman Catholic parish in 
Ashich the church was situated, an allowance was given of 
20^. per annum, provided that no more than 26\ per month 


was demanded from each scholar, and that 20 scholars, from 
5 to 15 years of age, had been in regular attendance for 190 
days in the year. Ten shillings were to be distributed yearly, 
as prize-money, among the best scholars in each school, by 
the first resident member for the county, on the return ; 
otherwise by the non-resident one. The management of the 
schools was intrusted to trustees, as in the Act of 1829. The 
teacher, before appointment, must produce a certificate, 
signed by the minister of the most numerous religious denomi- 
nation in the parish, according to the latest census, and by 
one justice of the peace, and the militia officer of highest grade 
in the parish, or by two others, that he is known as of good 
character, and that he has been examined by them, and 
found capable of teaching reading, writing and arithmetic, in 
the language of the majority of the inhabitants. He might be 
removed, either on the representation of a majority of the 
county visitors, or, after hearing, by the trustees, on the com- 
plaint of three electors. A public examination was to be held 
yearly, and three at least of the visitors were to make an 
inspection of the school, which they were to certify, as directed 
by a schedule annexed to the Act. No more than 10 free 
scholars were to be admitted to any one school, and then only 
when their parents had another child at school, for whom they 
paid. The visitors were to be the legislative councillors resi- 
dent in the county ; its members in the House of Assembly, 
Avhether resident or not ; the senior acting justice of the 
peace, the militia officer of highest rank, and the minister of 
the most numerous religious denomination. These visitors, 
in addition to the duties before mentioned, were to determine 
all questions relating to districting and building houses, &c., 
and they alone were to have their expenses paid. 

The schools of the Royal Institution were embraced in 
this Act. 

The other most remarkable alterations introduced by it 
consisted in the additional powers which it vested in the 
members of the House of Assembly. They were to have the 
distribution of the 105. prize-money ; indeed the whole powers 
of visitation may be said to have centred in them, because 
their political importance generally enabled them to do as 
they chose with those of their co-visitors who resided in the 
parish, and because the members of the Legislative Council 
were few in number, and rarely fulfilled the condition of 
residence in the county. Complaints were frequently made 
of the improper application of the prize-money entrusted for 
distribution to the M. P. Ps. 



A writer of no small merit, in an article addressed to the 
* Populaire ', Canadian newspaper, and signed, L. P. R. 
Instituteur, remarks : ' Sur ce sujet je puis dire a la honte 
de ceux a qui il appartient, que bien des ecoles ont ete privees 
de cette gratification. Moi-meme, je me suis oblige d'ecrire 
a un representant du comte de Berthier pour lui mander, 
" s'il avait envoye I'argent qui etait destine a recompenser 
les enf ans des ecoles, qu'il y avait deux semestres que les visi- 
teurs de notre paroisse n'avaient rien donne pour cet objet." 
II me fit reponse qu'il avait donne I'argent a un des princi- 
paux de la paroisse, ou je tenais I'ecole ; que si ce dernier ne 
1' avait pas distribue, il y avait mauvaise foi de la part de 
cet individu. Alors je dis a I'un de mes sindics d'aller trouver 
I'individu en question, et de lui demander les recompenses 
des enf ans ; qu'avec ce peu d' argent les enf ans se pourraient 
acheter des livres, du papier, et d'autres choses necessaires 
pour I'ecole. En y allant il regut a peu pres la reponse 
suivante : " Je garde, dit le visiteur, cet argent pour payer 
les frais d'annonces, les lettres non affranchies, et Facte 
d'election des sindics." Combien d'autres abus que je men- 
tionnerais, si le terns me le permettait, et combien d'autres 
encore se sont passes inapper9us ! S'il y a eu des visiteurs si 
peu delicats jusqu'au point d'enfreindre les lois eux-memes, 
il ne faut pas s'etonner s'il y ait eu des sindics qui se soient 
rendus encore plus coupables, pour des sommes beaucoup 
plus considerables, par exemple dans la construction des 
maisons d'ecole. Je fus temoin lorsqu'un sindic dans le 
comte de St. Hyacinthe re9ut une verte le9on de Mr. Roc 
de St. Ours, dans le courant d'Aout 1832, pour avoir retire 
501. du gouvernement pour la batisse d'une maison, dont voici 
a peu pres I'histoire. Le terrain sur lequel la maison etait 
batie avait ete donne en pur don a la fabrique de la paroisse. 
Le seigneur du lieu avait fait don de tout le bois, en outre 
14 a 15 habitans avaient donne chacun trois a quatre piastres 
a part des corvees, de maniere que la maison fut edifice sans 
avoir coute 15 piastres. Le sindic, qui s'ingerait de cela, fit 
estimer le terrain et la maison a 100/. pour retirer 50/., comme 
il etait dit dans I'acte d'education. II les retira en effet, et 
la maison est tou jours restee imparfaite. M. de St. Ours fut 
tellement surpris de voir cette maison, qu'il dit qu'elle n'etait 
bonne qu'a loger les poules. Quand il sut en outre que le 
gouvernement avait donne 50/., c'est pour le coup que le 
pauvre sindic se fit tancer, et qu'il en reQut sur les quatre 
faces. Le cure de la paroisse, voyant le maitre et la maitresse 
si mal loges, Icur donna onze piastres pour faire cloisons. 11 


parait a present que le proprietaire du terrain s'en est empare. 
Voila un exemple qui fait voir que Targent a ete dissipe ou 
mal employe ; car avec 501. toutes personnes peuvent faire 
une bonne maison, bien par ache vee en dedans et en dehors, 
lorsque les materiaux sont sur la place gratuitement. S'il 
y avait une perquisition sur toutes les maisons qui se sont 
baties, sous les dispositions de I'acte, il est certain qu'on y 
verrait avec surprise plusieurs cents louis de dissipes et perdus 
pour la province, mais qui ont grossi la bourse de certains 
tartuffes avides d'argent.' 

Complaints were also very frequently made that the pro- 
vision, which required the master's certificate to be signed 
by the county members, before his allowance could be dra^\-n, 
gave them a power over him, which was too often propitiated 
by acts of political subserviency. I frequently heard these 
charges made, and in no few instances attempted to be sub- 
stantiated by facts. Though it is necessary in Canada to be 
very suspicious of statements advanced by political parties in 
disparagement of their adversaries, or in vindication of them- 
selves, no one who is conversant with the fury of Canadian 
partizanship can help recognizing in the provisions of this Act 
temptations to abuse sufficient, under such circumstances, to 
overcome the scruples of belligerent legislators. 

The 3 Will. 4, c. 4, made some alterations in the school 
districts, as laid out in the previous year, and reduced their 
whole number to 1,294. It also contained a very judicious 
provision for granting 41. extra to every master who should 
teach both languages. 

The Education Committee in their report in 1834 still com- 
plain of the extravagance of the school grants, and express 
a hope ' that the time is not far distant when the whole 
country will be persuaded that it is much better to trust to 
themselves for the discharge of the duty of affording useful 
instruction to their offspring, rather than depend upon legis- 
lative appropriations.' The 4 Will. 4, c. 9, continued the Act 
of 1832 to May 1836. By this the school districts were again 
increased in seven counties, and the visitors were empowered 
to grant 10/. extra to the best master in every county, namely, 
the one who had the largest and best conducted school ; pro- 
vided that in addition to the ordinary course of elementar^^ 
instruction he also taught geometry, French or English 
grammar, and book-keeping. 

In 1835 the House of Assembly having come to the resolu- 
tion of not proceeding to business, no Education Bill was 
passed. In the session 1835-6 special grants were made 


amounting to nearly 12,000/., being, in point of fact, the allow- 
ance for the previous as well as the current year. The reports 
of the Education Committee this year are much in the same 
strain as those before referred to. They state, ' that the 
liberality of the legislature, far from having stimulated the 
efforts of the members of the institutions connected with 
education, appears on the contrary to have paralyzed them.* 
They go on to represent the unreasonable demands made by 
the inhabitants in many places for new schools districts. 
' These applications,' they say, * do not, generally speaking, 
come from places which appear by their population to be 
entitled to a greater number than that now allowed them ; 
but, on the contrary, from places where the proportion of the 
number of school districts is four times greater than some 
others. The single fact that a school district is asked for 
a place in which there are only three families, will be sufficient 
to satisfy your honourable House of the necessity of examin- 
ing applications of this nature with the most scrupulous 
attention. Your committee have come to the determination 
to recommend, that for the future the number of school 
districts in each county be regulated by its population.' It 
appears from these reports that the cost of education in the 
three preceding years had been as follows : — In 1833, 22,154/. ; 
in 1834, 24,543/. ; in 1835, 25,810/. In the last year there 
were 1,202 schools and 38,377 children in attendance, of whom 
14,048 were gratuitously instructed, and 24,329 paid, or pro- 
fessed to pay, at the rate prescribed by law. The committee, 
after commenting upon the universal incompetency of school- 
masters, &c., conclude by recommending two Bills; the one for 
the establishment of Normal schools, and the other for the con- 
tinuance of the general elementary system. The first of these 
became law (6 Will. 4, c. 12.) — See Abstract, Appendix, (B. 12.) 
It provided for the establishment and support, for five 
years, of two Normal schools, one at Quebec and the other at 
Montreal, to be under the management of a committee, of 
10 persons in each city ; each committee was allowed 400/., 
to enable it to procure professors, and purchase books and 
apparatus ; 600/. per annum, for five years, for salaries for 
such professors, and 250/. per annum, for a like period, for 
the contingent expenses of the schools. A further yearly sum 
of 120/. was granted to each, for three years, for the mainte- 
nance and tuition of five or more poor schoolmasters desirous 
of completing themselves in the art of teaching : and a like 
sum was granted, for the like period, to the Ursuline Nuns of 
Quebec and Three Rivers, and the Soeurs de la Congregation 

1352.3 S 


de Notre-Dame at Montreal, for the maintenance and tuition 
of five poor young females willing to devote themselves to 
teaching. The schools were to be open only to persons above 
14, who would give good security that they would accept 
employment for five years after leaving the Normal school in 
some superior or elementarj^ institutions in the province, under 
penalty of refunding to the committees all the expenses of 
their tuition, &c. ; and to schoolmasters seeking to perfect 
themselves in the art of teaching. A course of studies was 
prescribed, such as is adopted at similar establishments in 
Europe, and was to extend over a period of three years. 
A pupil, after having obtained a certificate of fitness, &c. was 
entitled to preference in employment at schools receiving 
legislative assistance. The five years were to begin to run 
from the date of the establishment of the schools in the 
respective cities. Both committees immediately united in 
sending to Europe, for the purpose of procuring professors and 
books, &c., the Rev. Mr. Holmes of the seminary of Quebec, 
a gentleman of great worth and talents. He brought back 
with him two professors for the Montreal branch, who imme- 
diately opened their school, and came into the receipt of their 
salaries. They had I believe as many at one time as three 
pupils, but have none at all at the present moment. No 
attempt has yet been made to organize the school at Quebec. 
Mr. Holmes brought back with him some very valuable 
apparatus and a large collection of books, which are now in 
charge of the committee. The reason of the failure of this 
act is obvious. The other Bill, which was passed by the House 
of Assembly at the same time, having been rejected by the 
Council, the whole system of elementary education fell to the 
ground, and persons could hardly be found willing to throw 
away three years at these normal schools, and pledge them- 
selves to be ready to teach for five more, when there were no 
schools in existence for them to teach in, and really a very 
poor prospect of any ever being established. At the same 
time the Act had great merits ; it sought to remedy, and by 
provisions very suitable as far as they went, one of the greatest 
vices in the existing system. It, nevertheless, was of course 
the subject of bitter attack in a province where the merits 
of measures are no security against attack. 

The Bill of 1836, which, as I have 'just said, was thrown out 
by the Council, proposed to raise the number of school dis- 
tricts to 1,658, and to grant far greater powers as regarded 
the management of schools to members of the House of 
Assembly. The only other novel features in it are, 1st, the 


establishment of a superior or model school, in every parish 
or township, where the population, according to the last 
census, exceeded 500 souls, to the master of which an allow- 
ance was to be made of 50?. per annum, upon the majority of 
the heads of families, at a meeting duly called, having voted 
a further sum of not less than 201., so as to raise his salary 
to 70/. He was required, in addition to reading, writing and 
arithmetic, to teach the grammar of the language of the 
majority of the inhabitants, and the elements of mensuration 
and geography, particularly that of North America. 2dly, 
the provision by which it empowered, though it did not 
compel, the majority of the inhabitants to tax the district for 
further support of its schools. The grounds on which the 
Council rejected this Bill are so fully and so ably stated in 
their report, that I cannot do better than give their own words. 
After reviewing the provisions made for education in past 
years by the legislature, and pointing out their numerous 
faults as emphatically and oftentimes admitted in the reports 
of the other House, they proceed : — ' Your committee beg 
leave to state, that, notwithstanding the foregoing reports of 
the special committee of the House of Assembly on education, 
concurred in by that honourable House, the number of school 
districts is by this Bill considerably augmented, and the i)ublic 
expenditure for this object, which has already reached the 
amount of 150,000/., is very greatly increased, as nearly 
40,000/. will be required annually, for four years ensuing, 
to cover the appropriations specified therein. Your com- 
mittee, while expressing their concurrence in the propriety 
of assisting education in its progress, at the same time fully 
coincide with the general tenor of the reports above alluded 
to, that its support by the people themselves would be more 
effectual in its results than under the present system of lavish 
expenditure, which, even for so desirable an end, will ulti- 
mately lead to apathy and indifference. 

' That the system of management proposed to be continued, 
and in some points extended, by this Bill, must lead to con- 
sequences which your committee cannot but regard as pro- 
ductive of evil. The direction and superintendence of the 
sums appropriated by this Bill are intrusted, in effect, to the 
county members of the House of Assembly. This power your 
committee consider to be an object of extreme importance 
for good or for evil, as the persons in whose hands it is placed 
may be influenced, on the one hand, by a pure sense of duty, 
or, on the other, by the opinion or feeling of party, or by 
other improper motives. Your committee think it necessary 

S 2 


to point out the powers contained in this Bill, upon which 
they found their apprehensions that some abuses may result 
from its operation : 

' First. The certificate of the trustees, by means of which 
the schoolmaster is to be paid, is to be transmitted to the 
county member. Second. The certificate of the qualification 
of masters of the superior schools, by means of which they 
receive their salaries, is to be transmitted likewdse to him. 
Third. The county member is to make the pay-list of the 
county schools and masters, by means of which the masters* 
salaries are to be paid by the receiver-general. Fourth. All 
alterations in the school districts are subject to the approval 
of the county members, or may in some cases, as provided by 
this Bill, be made by them of their own authority. Fifth. 
Large sums of money are to be intrusted to them for dis- 
tribution, as rewards of excellence to scholars. Sixth. The 
county member is to demand, recover and receive all sums 
of money remaining unpaid from former appropriations, for 
sums for prizes, and for this purpose may require the assis- 
tance of the law officers of the Crown. Seventh. The elections 
of trustees of schools, by heads of families, are to be trans- 
mitted to the county member. Eighth. They are not required 
to support by vouchers their account of monies intrusted to 
them, as are other persons. Ninth. They are among the number 
of school visitors. Tenth. Finally, these powers of the county 
members shall, in case of a dissolution of Parliament, con- 
tinue to be vested in them until their successors shall be 
elected, any law to the contrary notwithstanding. 

* Your committee believe that your honourable House will 
see in these provisions sufficient grounds for the apprehension 
they have expressed, that abuses may result from the opera- 
tion of the measure. From the experience of past ages, as 
w^ell as from the appropriations made by this Bill, your com- 
mittee apprehend that liberality may at last degenerate into 
prodigality, and the object sought for be as far from attain- 
ment as before. Under these circumstances, your committee 
suggest the propriety of suspending all further appropriations 
until some general effective system of education can be 
judiciously planned, and carefully executed, whereby the 
provincial revenue will be relieved from so heavy an annual 
demand upon it, and the people be influenced to take a more 
decided interest in the prosperity of institutions for the educa- 
tion of themselves and children. Independently of these 
general considerations affecting the merits of the measure, 
your committee conceive that there are others growing out 


of the j)articular circumstances of the finances of the province 
which demand their serious attention. They think it neces- 
sary to bring to recollection a resolution passed by your 
honourable House on the 6th of March last, " That it was not 
expedient to concur, during the present session of the Pro- 
vincial Parliament, in appropriation of monies to a greater 
extent than will leave in the public chest a sum equal to the 
discharge of the sum of 30,519^. 45. 2d., advanced and paid 
out of the funds of the United Kingdom, by his Majesty's 
order, for the support of the government, and the administra- 
tion of justice therein, and to other servants of the Crown 
and individuals as therein mentioned, for which sums no 
appropriation or provision has hitherto been made. 

' That as your honourable House has already concurred in 
Acts for the appropriation of nearly 12,000Z. for the encourage- 
ment of education in this province, that as no Act providing 
for the sum of money mentioned in the preceding resolution 
has hitherto been sent up by the House of Assembly for the 
concurrence of this honourable House, and as your com- 
mittee conceive that the state of the provincial revenue (due 
regard being had to the payment of the sums above men- 
tioned which remain unprovided for) will not warrant the 
increased appropriation, your committee urge upon your 
honourable House the propriety of proceeding no further 
Avith the Bill intituled, &c.' 

It is impossible not to recognize the truth of the greater 
part of these objections urged by the Council. Although the 
Bill contained some new provisions of a very valuable charac- 
ter, yet all the radical faults of the old system were left un- 
touched by it, and some, namely, those pointed out by the 
Council, so aggravated, that the cause of education in the 
province has, I am convinced, gained much more than it has 
lost by the rejection of the Bill and the consequent breaking 
up of the whole system. 

Since this period some few masters continued their schools, 
in the double hope of a new Act being shortly passed, or of 
being supported by the voluntary contributions of the in- 
habitants ; but both these hopes were soon disappointed, 
and the schools, with very few exceptions, shut up. Thrown 
thus on the wide world without resources, and in a time of 
such excitement, the rebel standard attracted some to a cause 
which ended in their destruction or expatriation ; others have 
succeeded in getting into new occupations, but very few are 
to be found still adhering to the old. 

The schools, however, in the three towns of Quebec, Montreal 


and Three Rivers, and the academies and colleges, which had 
been the subjects of special grants, continued in operation 
and received the usual assistance under an Act passed by 
Sir John Colborne and his Special Council in the spring of 

I will now conclude my observation on the past, hj taking 
a general retrospect of the different attempts at elementary 
education made by the legislature, and pointing out the 
causes which led to their failure. 

The immediate cause of the failure of the schools under the 
Royal Institution was the unceasing hostilitj^ of the Catholic 
Church and the Prench Canadians, on the ground that they 
were essentially British and Protestant. The absence of every 
species of popular control distinguished this system from 
those subsequently adopted by the Assembly. In other 
respects it had the same miserable imperfections. 

The Fabrique Act can hardly be said ever to have fairly 
come into operation, and only deserves notice as pointing 
out a fund in every Catholic parish, by which, in the opinion 
of the French Canadians themselves, education can always 
be more or less assisted. The system patched up at different 
times by the Assembly, into what was called the elementary 
school system, was not merely a vicious and imperfect one, 
but of late years, especially, pernicious in the extreme. It 
is obvious that it was mainly recommended to that body by 
its vast utility as a political machine. 

The annual distribution of such large sums of money, and 
the exercise in other respects of such extensive patronage, 
were of course convenient to members ; but to the school 
system such an arrangement was pregnant with mischief. 

How startled we should be in England at a proposition to 
vest similar powers in our House of Commons ! It would be 
regarded as almost equivalent to granting the existing members 
their seats during pleasure. 

That the temptations to abuse thus offered were not very 
strenuously resisted by the House of Assembly in Lower 
Canada is more than insinuated by what is called the British 
party. By them the schoolmaster in the Catholic parishes is 
represented as invariably the most active and accredited 
organ of the disaffected ; and I have been assured by many 
witnesses that the ' Minerve ', an exciting and seditious paper, 
was in frequent use in the schools as a class-book. This 
latter assertion is, it may be hoped, unfounded. But, with 
regard to the former, I have reason to believe that it is to 
a certain extent too true. Certain it is, at any rate, that the 


qualification of loyalty, required of a master in the more 
peaceable days of the Bill of 1814, was never insisted upon in 
later bills. Another great evil, to which this system was 
subjected by its connexion with politics, was its want of per- 
manency. Every alternate year it was liable to expire alto- 
gether, or undergo modifications, which, as regarded those 
embarked in it, in many cases amounted to expiration. The 
House of Assembly knew well the power which they derived 
from their common habit of temporary legislation. It was 
no slight hold to possess in the country, this, of continuing, 
or at any given time withholding, its sole means of education. 
It is true that it would be almost impossible to make a system 
permanent which was to be supported entirely by legislative 
grants, because the finances of a country like Canada could 
not always afford such large expenditure. Indeed, the ex- 
penditure was not fixed, but was liable to be increased to an 
indefinite amount. This, however, instead of being an argu- 
ment in favour of temporary legislation, should be one among 
many others for seeking out some never-failing source of 
maintenance by which education should be rendered inde- 
pendent of the wants or caprices of the legislature. No man 
of character or industrious habits could be induced to abandon 
other more certain occupations to embrace that of school- 
master, when he was only certain of two years' employment. 
Another very pregnant evil, common to all such systems, 
was the miserable character of the inspection to which they 
were subject. The trustees who had the choice of the master, 
and virtually the entire management of the school, it has 
been already shown, could themselves rarely wTite. Their 
principal relations with him were those of debtor and creditor, 
or of fellow-partizans in politics. If it were ever necessary 
to deceive the visitors, nothing more easy. The daily journals 
of attendance, which latterly the master was obliged to keep, 
were easily falsified to suit the injunctions of the law, and 
nobody able or willing to detect the falsehood. The day on 
which the visitors made their inspection the number of 
children was complete, and every thing appeared correct. 
The great desideratum of the master's political usefulness 
being once proved, the visitors were good-humouredly blind 
to trifling deficiencies in morals or capacity. L. P. R. In- 
stituteur, whom I have before quoted, speaking of these 
abuses, says, — ' II y a eu des sindics qui ne se sont pas fait 
^crupules de prendre I'argent des maitres pour payer les frais 
de leurs elections ; ces messieurs avaient les honneurs, et les 
pauvres maitres d'ecoles payaient pour. Enfin, il y a eu des 


visiteurs qui ont fait avoir la paye a des personnes qui n'avaient 
pas eu d'ecoliers pendant un hiver. J'en connais une, qui 
re9ut 10^. du gouvernement malgre le rapport de ses sindics, 
qui deposerent qu'elle n'avait pas eu plus de sept a huit 
ecoliers durant le semestre, quoique le bill disposat que 
personne ne recevrait I'allocation sans qu'il eut, de bonne f oi, 
instruit 20 pupiUes : cette personne regut les lOZ. parce qu'elle 
etait dans la manche du cure de la paroisse.' 

But the most fertile source of failure was in the indifferent 
qualifications and characters of the masters. I believe it may 
be fairly said, that a schoolmaster's was the worst trade in 
the country, and that nobody would embark in it who was 
qualified by character and understanding for any other. 
' A common farm servant,' says the Rev. Mr. Alexander, 
of Leeds, in his evidence before a committee of the House of 
Assembly, in 1836, ' is allowed 151. per annum for wages, 
and, in addition, washing, board and lodging. A school- 
master rarely gets more than 201. per annum, and none of 
the above-mentioned extras.' It is true that an additional 
payment of 2s. per month from each scholar was contem- 
plated by the legislature, but the poor master rarely got it ; 
parents either refused the payment altogether, or offered 
a tithe of it, and, if he declined, had recourse to the easy 
alternative of removing their children from his school ; and 
it would not do for him to break with too many children in 
this way, because he was obliged to have 20 regular pupils 
to entitle him to the Government allowance. Accordingly, 
the master was frequently on the brink of starvation, and 
always dependent on the good will of his parishioners. 
L. P. R. Instituteur says again, ' Le peu de respect qu'on 
a pour les maitres vient aussi en partie de ce qu'ils sont 
obliges de tendre la main aux habitans, pour avoir de quoi 
subsister a credit. Les habitans s'habituent a les entendre 
supplier, a demander ; ils viennent, enfin, a les rebuter et 
a les regarder comme des etres depourvus de toutes ressources 
pour vivre, ou, pour le dire en termes plus claires, comme des 
pauvres necessiteux, car avec nos habitans ceux des gens 
instruits qui n'ont pas de terre en partage ne sont guere 
regardes d'eux.' 

Nor was the master's incompetency the whole evil ; even 
when he was capable and willing, there was no provision for 
supplying the children with books. Parents objected strongly 
to the expense ; there was no other quarter to look to, and, 
consequently, many children went to schools without books. 

The indifference of parents was at once the cause and the 


effect of some of these evils. Here indeed was action and 
reaction. As long as they refused to contribute to the support 
of schools, so long the schools were without competent masters, 
and the children without a proper provision of books. And, 
again, while the schools were in such a deplorable state, the 
parents did not see much advantage in supporting them, but 
thought their children might be much more profitably em- 
ployed at home. The fatal notion fully possessed them that 
it was the duty of the legislature to supply them with the 
means of education, and that they were conferring a favour 
in accepting such means. 

Such, then, have been the attempts at education hitherto 
made in Lower Canada ; and can it excite wonder that this 
combination of imperfections and vices should have produced 
no good result ? — that education should have languished 
under systems, where the masters were illiterate and needy ; 
the supervision careless and dishonest ; the school-houses 
unfit for occupation, and ill-supplied with fuel ; the children 
unprovided with books ; and parents utterly indifferent to 
an institution of which they could not appreciate the impor- 
tance, and the trouble and cost of which, at all events, they 
deemed the province of the legislature ? 

I trust that I have not done injustice to the House of 
Assembly in this review of their labours. It is extremely 
difi&cult to apportion to them their proper share of praise and 
blame. Much of each they undeniably deserved. In the Bills 
of 1814-18, &c., up to 1831, their main struggle was to subject 
the school system to popular control. This principle surely 
merits well to be an important element in every system of 
education ; and if, on these occasions, such control was left 
altogether unchecked by the executive, it was, perhaps, 
because the executive had no great claims upon the confidence 
of the Assembly. The standing committee of the House 
laboured diligently and in good faith. They received evidence 
on all points. They did not shrink from the investigation of 
alleged abuses, nor, in many instances, from the application 
of the proper remedies. They saw the evils arising out of the 
incompetency of masters, and the necessity of providing some- 
thing higher than mere elementary education, and they 
suggested the wholesome expedients of normal and model 
schools. They saw the fraudulent operation of the provision 
which required a minimum attendance of 20 free scholars 
before the Government allowance of IO5. a head could be 
touched ; and they did away with it, substituting a fixed 
monthly payment. They saw again the avarice of the people 



evade this remedial provision, and they saw clearly how to 
enforce it, but they had not the courage. They knew that 
their semi-annual expressions of regret would be of no avail ; 
that appeals to good feelings were utterly thro^\^l away, and 
that nothing would do, short of compelling the inhabitants 
to contribute a direct, and not scanty, proportion towards the 
expenses of the system. They saw all this, but they did not 
dare to propose so unpopular a measure. 

In short, the moment they found that their educational 
provisions could be turned to political account, from that 
moment those provisions were framed with a view to pro- 
mote party rather than education. This was their essential 
fault ; this it was that pervaded and contaminated the whole 
system, and paralysed all the good that was otherwise in it. 
This it was that mainly contributed to reduce the province 
to the deplorable state in which it is at present found. Were 
a stranger to travel through it, unacquainted with its history, 
or any part of the voluminous details which I have barely 
sketched to your Excellency ; were he to converse every 
where with the poorer class of its inhabitants, I am confident 
that he would return with the impression that no attempt 
had ever been made in it towards the establishment of any 
elementary system of education ; but, to one who has studied 
its history, and waded through the mass of laws concerning 
education, it is at first inexplicable how so many attempts 
can have been made without producing some sort of result. 
Go where you will, nevertheless, you will scarcely find a trace 
of education among the peasantry. While the school -system 
was in force, there was a very inadequate provision of houses, 
and, of those that once had existence, some are now in com- 
plete ruins, and others the subject of fierce litigation among 
the neighbouring inhabitants. The sight of these ruins or the 
tale of these disputes is all that remains to the present of 
the past. 

I consulted several lawyers as to their experience in this 
matter, and they invariably told the same story. They agreed 
that there is hardly ever a prisoner or a witness, or a petty 
juryman who knows how to write ; indeed, I have seen 
noticed in a Montreal paper a presentment by a grand jury, in 
which six out of the 13 signatures were marks. I consulted 
one of the heads of the militia department, and he told me, 
with a play on the word, that the officers under him were 
generally very experienced marksmen. I saw several petitions 
from parishes, praying for the erection of small-cause courts ; 
I hardly ever saw more than the petitioners' crosses to them ; 



and it should be borne in mind that these petitions must be 
signed by at least 100 heads of families in the parish. It may 
be said that all these jurors and militia officers and petitioners 
are of necessity grown-up men, and that few could havp reaped 
the benefit of the schools which were only established to any 
extent in 1829, at which time they were beyond the age of 
admission. I made, however, particular inquiries on all sides 
as to whether the rising generation were better instructed, 
but rarely was any distinction made in their favour. In the 
very few country places which I visited, I made a point of 
asking all the children I met whether they could write ; the 
great majority could not write at all, and of those who said 
they could, most, I found, on pressing, to admit that they 
could only WTite their names. This description will not seem 
justified by the analysis of the schools under the Roman 
Catholic clergy of the diocese of Quebec, furnished by M. Ca- 
zeau, the bishop's secretary, and which will be found in 
the Appendix (Letter C.) I feel bound in justice to give his 
statement, but, although I am not qualified positively to 
contradict any part of it, I cannot help expressing an opinion, 
formed after much conversation respecting the district, that 
if a strict inquiry were made as to how many old or young in 
it could write, or cast up sums, or speak English well enough 
for ordinary purposes, the number, apparently so respectable 
on his list, would be reduced to a very small fraction. 

Withal, this is a people eminently qualified to reap advan- 
tage from education ; they are shrewd and intelligent, very 
moral, most amiable in their domestic relations, and most 
graceful in their manners ; but they lack all enterprise ; they 
have no notion of improvement, and no desire for it. Their 
wants are few and easily satisfied. They have not advanced 
one step in civilization beyond the old Bretons who first set 
foot on the banks of the St. Lawrence, and they are quite 
content to be stationary. Their utter ignorance of the theory 
and improved practice of agriculture is painfully witnessed 
in their cultivation of the rich banks of that noble river. If, 
instead of learning at their schools to make crosses with pens, 
they had been taught the most approved principles of clearing, 
draining, &c., in a word, of farming ; instead of starving cattle 
and minute subdivisions of ill-cultivated plots, no disadvan- 
tages of climate would have prevented our seeing by this time 
thriving gardens, productive crops and healthy herds. 

But I have hitherto been only speaking of the male popula- 
tion. The difference in the character of the two sexes is 
remarkable. The women are really the men of Lower Canada. 


They are the active, bustling, business portion of the Jmbitaiis ; 
and this results from the much better education which they 
get, gratuitously, or at a very cheap rate, at the nunneries 
which are dispersed over the province. 

But I do not profess to give any thing like the accurate 
statistics of the present state of education. To arrive at these 
required more labour and time than any other branch of the 
inquiry. I had, however, made the attempt, and had sent to 
every parish and township a series of questions arranged in 
a tabular form, and so comprehensive, as, if properly answered, 
to enable me to give the minutest details as to the quantity 
and character of education now existing, and the local means 
of which use might be made in building up a new^ system. 
The preparation of these tables, blank forms of which will be 
found in the Appendix, (Letter D.), and the finding out the 
individuals in each locality most qualified to give information, 
took much time and were attended, the latter task in par- 
ticular, with much trouble. Bj^ the time I left Quebec, hardly 
any returns had been sent in, but post after post brought 
letters from persons whose assistance I had asked in filling up 
the tables, declining to act with certain other persons with 
whom I had proposed to associate them for that purpose ; 
some, on the ground that such persons were bad characters, 
or that they were too interested to be honest, &c., but most 
frequently that they were disloyal. A Protestant clergyman 
wrote to me, indignantly refusing his aid, because his name 
had been put after that of the Roman Catholic priest, in the 
list of persons whom I had requested to co-operate in making 
a return. The greater part of the Roman Catholic clergy in 
the diocese of Montreal, who took any notice whatever of my 
circular, gave answer, that they could consent to receive no 
communications on such a subject that did not come through 
their bishop. The bishop himself intimated to me, that the 
education of the Catholic population was the business of their 
Church, and one with which the Government had no right to 
interfere. From the bishop of Quebec and his coadjutor, and 
from all the clergy in that diocese with whom I came in con- 
tact, I invariably received the most considerate and friendly 
attention to importunities which it was necessary not sparingly 
to address to them. 

From the moment it became generally understood that your 
Lordship's government w^as coming to a speedy close, a marked 
difference was observable in the willingness of many to supply 
information. Some, perhaps, thought that the whole inquiry 
would from that moment fall to the ground ; but a greater 


number, I am persuaded, that there was no longer any authority 
to enforce their attention to its unpopular demands. 

The greater part of the information required in my circular 
being indispensable before any future system of education 
can be brought into operation, the office of the commission 
at Quebec is kept open, and a competent gentleman appointed 
for the express purpose of collecting, digesting, and reporting 
upon the returns. Since my departure from Canada, I have 
received letters from him, stating that the answers come in 
very slowly ; that there is a great disinclination on the part 
of some to take any trouble in the matter, and a determina- 
tion on that of others to throw every impediment in the way 
of the inquiry. His experience strongly confirms my own, 
that no reliance is to be placed on the zeal or honesty of the 
localities, and that whatever is to be done, must be done by 
commissioners themselves visiting every spot, and in person 
setting their new system on foot. The only accurate details 
I am able to furnish, and I venture to call them accurate, not 
from my own knowledge, but from my complete confidence 
in the gentleman who collected them, relate to the city and 
suburbs of Quebec. It was a work of no small labour, as he 
had no authentic guide in his search, and was literally obliged 
to hunt out schools in every street and alley within that large 
circle, and as he made the most minute inquiries respecting 
each. These details are in my possession ; they are hardly 
worth inserting in this report or in the Appendix, but are 
ready to be handed over, at a moment's notice, to any authori- 
ties that may hereafter have a use for them. 

The following are the most important facts that they 
present : — 

There are in Quebec 22 boys' and 23 girls' schools, among 
which latter are not however included those of the Ursuline 
and Soeurs de la Congregation, &c., nunneries. 

The total number of boys in regular attendance is 1,222, 
of whom 581 are English and 641 French Canadians. The 
total number of girls is 977, of whom 365 are English and 
612 French. Accordingly, the gross number of scholars in 
regular attendance is 2,199 ; of this number only 548 can 
read and wTite well enough for ordinary purposes, and only 
490 learn both languages, 46 English children learning French, 
and 444 French learning English. The whole yearly cost of 
these schools, arising from subscription, public grants and 
pupils' fees, is about 4,400?. Many of the masters and mis- 
tresses are utterly incompetent ; and it is obvious, that, 
under a judicious system, twice this number of children 


might be brought together at half the cost, in a quarter of 
the number of schools, and receive an education incalculably 

With regard to the means of higher education, persons of 
British origin have hardly any, while those of French origin 
have them in too great abundance. It is impossible for an 
English gentleman to give his son a finished education in the 
province. If he wishes him to be instructed in the higher 
branches of mathematics, natural and moral philosophy, &c., 
he must either send him to Europe or the United States, or 
avail himself of the more imperfect opportunities afforded in 
the Catholic establishments of the colony. Political and 
religious animosities render them very averse to the latter 
alternative. Some fear what they consider the contamina- 
tion of republican principles in the States, and all shrink from 
the expense and separation attending education in Europe. 
Under these circumstances, they cherish with great fondness 
the hope of seeing the establishment of a colonial university, 
on a broad and comprehensive scale. The better class of 
tradesmen, and the lower grade of merchants, are also without 
the opportunities of a good commercial education. It is true 
that there are some private establishments of the requisite 
description ; but neither as regards number or quality are 
they adequate to the necessity. 

I will now explain what is intended by the too great abun- 
dance of means of superior education enjoyed by the French 
Canadians. They have the two large seminaries of *Quebec 
and Montreal ; the former giving instruction to about 350 
pupils yearly, and the latter (from which I have received no 
return) to probably about the same number ; and also the 
colleges of Nicolet, Chambly, *Berthier, *St. Anne de la 
Pocatiere, St. Hyacinthe and *l'Assomption, which, perhaps, 
between them contain about 1,000 pupils. These are under 
the sole direction of the Catholic clergy, by whose benevolence 
they were originally endowed. Many of the pupils are children 
of common Tiabitans. They receive a vastly superior education 
to the rest of the population, but, after their course of studies 
is completed, what is their lot ? There are no public institu- 
tions in the province where their talents can be turned to 
account. The learned professions are overstocked, and many 
bring back to the humble home of their fathers a disappointed 
and discontented spirit ; too proud to sink to manual labour, 
and without the opportunity of rising higher. 

With the exception of the seminary of Quebec, I cannot 
speak from my own knowledge of the character of these 



colleges. I had intended to make a personal inspection of 
them, and had made preparations to commence my journey- 
on the very morning the intelligence arrived from England 
which rendered it necessary for your Excellency to relinquish 
the government of the colony. From those in the above 
enumeration marked with an asterisk I have received returns. 
These I have also in my possession, and at the disposal of 
the Government. The seminary of Quebec is an admirably- 
conducted establishment ; the zeal of its members unremit- 
ting, and their arrangements in every way most judicious. 
Mr. Holmes, who is at present at the head of the department 
of tuition, furnished me with a minute account of its history, 
management and resources. This establishment has never 
received assistance from the public chest, but has kept up 
a constant struggle to make its own resources meet its daily 
increasing expenditure. This, however, will not long be 
possible. In a petition, which the seminary presented to your 
Excellency, they complain that lands in France belonging to 
them, and yielding an annual revenue of 9601. sterling, had 
been confiscated at the French Revolution ; and that, owing 
to sundry misunderstandings between their agent and the 
commissioners appointed to examine the claims of British 
subjects so situated, no compensation had ever been granted 
to them. The petition concluded with a prayer, that, if there 
was no further hope from that quarter, they might be per- 
mitted under letters patent to acquire and hold in mortmain 
lands of equal value to those of which they were thus de- 
spoiled, subject, however, to the most specific declaration 
that might be required, that they were held in trust for pur- 
poses of education alone. 

Similar attempts have been made by several other colleges, 
and some with success. A Bill to give generally a corporate 
capacity to all provincial institutions for education was passed 
by both Houses in 1834, but the royal sanction refused, on 
grounds very clearly stated by Lord Aberdeen, the then 
Colonial Secretary. In the course of this statement his Lord- 
ship observes, ' that he is not disposed to attach any real 
importance to the unlimited power which this Bill would confer 
of holding in mortmain rent -charges of any amount for the 
objects of the proposed corporations. With the changes which 
time has introduced in the state of society and public opinion 
throughout Christendom, have passed away the greater part, 
if not all, of the solid reasons by which our ancestors were 
induced to contend against the immoderate growth of eccle- 
siastical and collegiate foundations ; and maxims which 


might be just and useful in the densely-peopled states of 
Europe, possessing territories of comparatively narrow extent, 
would be altogether delusive if transferred to the continent 
of North America.* His Lordship concludes by saying, ' not- 
withstanding these objections, his Majesty cannot so far over- 
look the importance of the great object to the advancement 
of which the measure is directed, as to adopt any decision 
unfavourable to it. His Majesty earnestly trusts that a further 
Bill will be passed by the two Houses to obviate the difficulties 
I have pointed out, and in that event his Majesty's assent 
will be given with the highest possible satisfaction to the 
present, as well as to any such supplemental, enactment.' 

If any danger can reasonably be apprehended from the 
unlimited power to hold real estate, it would be very easy to 
prescribe a limit. The Canadians have great faith in the 
good effects of a general incorporation of educational institu- 
tions, as is witnessed by all the Bills from 1818 to 1824, 
wherein reliance for the eventual maintenance of schools was 
placed entirely on the charity, which was invited by such safe 
and encouraging provisions. 

As regards the academies and colleges, of which I have 
been speaking, it is confidently asserted that, if a general 
Incorporation Act were passed, the greater part, if not all of 
them, would before long be in a condition to be independent 
of legislative aid. 

The only Protestant endowment in the province is that of 
M'Gill's college. The history of this institution, the original 
bequest, the protracted litigation, and, at length, the final 
decision, are matters as familiar to persons in this country 
acquainted with Canadian affairs as in Canada itself. The 
college is not yet open ; indeed, the building not yet erected. 
Its annual income, derivable from houses in Montreal, and 
money at interest, is about 644?. It is obvious that this 
endowment alone is insufficient for the purposes of a univer- 
sity, to which rank it is the wish of many to elevate this 
college ; and it is doubtful whether the trustees of the Royal 
Institution, under whose direction it was placed by the will 
of the testator, would acquiesce in the terms on which legis- 
lative assistance ought hereafter to be granted. 

I abstain from giving in this place, which might appear the 
most appropriate for it, the views generally entertained as to 
the proper means and end of education by the most influential 
parties in the province, namely, the French and English laity, 
and the Protestant and Catholic clergy. I think they will be 
found better illustrated by their contrast or accordance with 


the principles I am now about to submit to your Excellency, 
as, in my opinion, affording the best foundation for a future 
scheme of national education. 

I cannot, however, dismiss this part of the subject without 
remarking, that, though the picture of the present, as I have, 
not unfaithfully, drawn it, is gloomy, and in much unpromis- 
ing, it has still its bright side. The very circumstances of the 
complete destruction of past systems, and the utter absence 
of any at the present time, are matters of great good fortune 
and congratulation, for now a clear field lies open for the 
future. Infinitely greater difficulties would have been in the 
way, if the claims of acting teachers were to be first con- 
sidered, or if a school-system were still in force, interwoven 
with the affections or interests of any large portion of the 
people ; but, as it is, there are no individuals to compensate, 
no old machinery forced upon our use ; and on the site of the 
old ruins is ample unencumbered room for the erection of 
a new and durable edifice. 

The great parent evil of Lower Canada is the hostile division 
of races. Every act of modern legislation bears the faithful 
impress of this hereditary deformity, and has imparted it 
with aggravated intensity to every institution or interest 
with which it has had to deal. Hence the imperfections and 
one-sidedness of all such institutions. In private life, the 
intense hatred of the two races does not often show itself 
in violent collisions, but rather in a rigid non -intercourse. 
From the moment they are born to the hour that they die 
they are, to all intents and purposes, two separate nations. 
But, until these divisions are healed and the people united, 
until Canada is nationalized and Anglified, it is idle for Eng- 
land to be devising schemes for her improvement. In this 
great work of nationalization, education is at once the most 
convenient and powerful instrument. It is a hopeless task to 
attempt to reconcile the existing generation of antagonists. 
Their whole life has been one of civil warfare. But, for those 
that are yet unborn, a more auspicious future may be prepared. 

In Canada, the child of French extraction is brought up 
out of the sight and hearing of the child of British parents. 
They never meet under the same roof ; they are sent to separate 
schools ; and they are told that the reason of this separation 
is, that the children of the rival schools are heretics, or belong 
to another nation. They have no common hopes or fears, or 
pleasures or dangers — ^none of those kindly associations so 
easily born out of the familiarities of comradeship, and so 
faithfully retained throughout the vicissitudes of life. In 

1352.3 X 


short, upon entering into the world, they find no tie to bind 
them together, and all things around them inviting to hatred 
and hostility. But how different would be their feelings 
towards each other, were they brought up at the same schools ; 
were they to play together, and receive the same punishment ! 
They would then form friendships which would soften, if not 
altogether subdue, the rivalries of after life. A scheme by 
which the children of these antagonist races should be brought 
together, were it only for purposes of play, would be prefer- 
able to one by which they received a good education apart ; 
but one, by which both union and instruction were assured 
to them, would be the first and most important step towards 
the regeneration of Canada. 

The first difliculty in the way of such a scheme is, to divest 
it altogether of political and sectarian tendencies. There 
must be no room for politicians to turn it to selfish purposes. 

The system must be permanent, and not liable to be dis- 
turbed by party dishonesty or caprice. No schoolmaster 
should vote at elections and any interference on his part in 
politics at any time should be punishable with removal, just 
as is the case in England with persons holding certain offices 
under the Crown. It should be made, moreover, impossible 
to make masterships, as heretofore, the reward to incom- 
petent persons of past political obsequiousness, by refusing 
that office to any one who has not a certificate from a normal 
school, or some similar establishment. Such precautions, 
enforced by an honest and vigilant supervision, would, I have 
no doubt, rid a new system of the abuse which was perhaps 
the most fatal among the many in the past. 

Another difficulty consists in the solution of these two 
questions : Is any religious instruction to be given in the 
future national schools ? and, if so, how is it to be so given 
as to be acceptable alike to Catholic and Protestant ? Through- 
out the United States, it is met by permitting no instruction 
of this description in the public schools beyond the reading 
every day, by the master, of a chapter in the Bible, and that 
without comment. The circumstances, however, of the two 
countries are different in some important respects. In the 
States, especially in those of New England, communications 
are more easy, the population more dense, and almost every 
sect in every locality provided with its religious teacher, and 
consequently with the means of obtaining religious instruction, 
independently of the school. In Canada, the minority in 
a parish or township have rarely any one to look to for it, 
except the schoolmaster ; nor, indeed, can the majority place 



much reliance elsewhere, because the people are so scattered, 
and the distances so great, that the minister can only bestoAV 
that attention on few which all require. Recognizing, there- 
fore, as every Christian must, the indispensable necessity of 
providing some means of religious instruction for children, 
and seeing the difficulty of finding them elsewhere than in the 
schools, it remains for me to show whether they can be intro- 
duced there, without at the same time offering violence to the 
reasonable jealousies of either creed. 

There are surely some points, and those neither few nor 
triffing, on which all Christians agree. The historical parts- of 
the old Testament, the Psalms, the Gospels, and various 
passages throughout the sacred volume, instilling the prin- 
ciples of Christian morality, are acceptable alike to Catholics 
and Protestants. Such parts are eminently adapted for 
children. The dogmatical parts, such as one religion would 
not trust another to interpret, are eminently ill-adapted for 
them ; therefore, it is precisely those parts of the Scriptures, 
concerning which, in every way, all religious denominations 
agree, that are best suited for the instruction of children. 
Is there any difficulty, then, in collating these parts, or are 
they insufficient for the object in view ? If the book of 
Bible -extracts adopted in the national schools of Ireland be 
objected to, on the ground of injudicious selection, let dele- 
gates from each persuasion of Christians in Canada meet and 
agree upon some other selection, in which the same principle 
shall be observed, namely, that of excluding all controversial 
points, and in which such grammatical, philological or his- 
torical explanations as are deemed requisite shall be arranged 
at the end of each chapter, and form the limit to which the 
master's comments shall extend. 

If some parts of the Bible are more important than others, 
they will be found in such extracts. In short, all that is 
therein should be read over and over again, marked and 
digested before a child travels beyond. It may safely be 
asserted that much more of the Scriptures may be so selected 
than ever will be read at elementary schools, and that the 
selection, made as it would be under the superintendence of 
able and discerning men, would be far better than could be 
expected from the discretion of the ordinary run of village 
school-masters. Under every system that has been, or ever 
will be, the Bible has been and will always be, in point of 
fact, read in extracts. The only difference is, that in some 
the extracts have been carefully made and separately bound 
together, and in others made at random and read from a 



volume which contained a great deal else, which was not 

By this arrangement, provision would be made for religious 
instruction to a certain extent, in which all might participate. 
However, I see no difficulty in affording different denomina- 
tions the opportunities of still further and more exclusive 
religious instruction, Avhich they might enjoy without offend- 
ing or interfering with each other. The book of extracts, 
I propose to be the only religious book used in school-hours, 
unless the board of delegates, to which I have referred, shall 
be ready to agree upon others of a similarly liberal character. 
Out of school-hours, that is to say, the first thing in the 
morning or the last in the evening, any minister or any body 
authorized in that behalf by the minister and the parents of 
the children, should be at liberty to teach them the catechism, 
or any thing else that might be deemed necessary. If con- 
fidence to such an extent can be placed by the majority in the 
master (for I think it should be considered a rule that, as 
generally as possible, the master should be of the religion of 
the majority), he can give them this extra religious instruction 
at either of those times, and the minority will understand that 
they are not to come till it is over, or to go away before it 
begins. Where, however, it is given by the master, an extra 
allowance should be made to him. In Catholic parishes the 
fabrique can without difficulty supply this trifling sum, and 
in the townships it must be raised by subscription. 

Again, the time which is not fixed upon for this purpose by 
the majority may be devoted to the extra religious instruction 
of the minority, if any person can be found to supply it. 
By this arrangement the majority lose nothing, and the 
minority are guaranteed something that they would not other- 
wise get. Every child will have the means of religious instruc- 
tion, of a sound and unimpeachable character, up to a certain 
point ; and the children of the majority ^^d\\ continue to have 
precisel}^ the same opportunity of receiving any further 
religious instruction, which they have hitherto been in the 
habit of enjoying, with this single exception, that it must be 
given either late or early in the day, and not, as heretofore, 
perhaps, in the middle of school-hours. ■ 

There is nothing in this which takes the religious instruc- m 
tion of youth out of the hands of the clergy. It, on the con- 
trary, confirms it to them. The religion, which it teaches in 
school-hours, is such as they have already approved of, and 
all beyond is left entirely to their direction. 

These views I put forward, much in the same language, in 


letters to the Catholic bishop of Quebec, and some of the 
principal members of the English and Scotch church. The 
answers I received were any thing but encouraging. The 
bishop, who spoke as the mild representative of the feelings 
of his clergy, seemed to find no fault with the proposal respect- 
ing the extracts, but directed his chief fears and hostility 
against the principle which I laid down as the great founda- 
tion of my system, namely, the importance of bringing the 
two religions and races together in common schools. He saw 
no advantage in such a union — (how few Canadians do, or 
will own that they do !) — and he clung with fondness to 
a scheme, which, together with the bishops of Montreal and 
Sidyme, and in the name of the Catholic Church, he had 
developed in a petition to your Lordship for the establish- 
ment of exclusively Catholic schools for the children of that 

He also feared the powers, which, in the system of which 
I drew him a sketch, I proposed to give to the superintendent 
or chief officer of education. He assumed that this func- 
tionary would never be a Catholic, and that he would invari- 
ably turn his influence against the Catholic Church. But, in 
the first place, I cannot see the justice of the assumption ; 
and, secondly, whatever his religion may be, and indeed hoW' 
ever illiberal his propensities, I conceive that my system 
would be so guarded against the possibility of this species of 
abuse, as to render the attempt much more dangerous to 
himself than to the religion which he sought to injure. 

The hostility of some leading members of the Protestant 
Church was founded upon the principle which has become so 
painfully familiar of late years in these educational con- 
troversies. It is expressed in the 7th of a series of resolutions 
adopted at a meeting of some members of that body, a short 
time after my departure from Quebec, ' That we feel it our 
duty candidly to avow the conviction, that, on the part of 
a Protestant Government, no system of education whatever 
should be termed a national one which is not based on the 
great Protestant principle of the unrestricted use of the Holy 
Scriptures ' ; in other words, upon the most unnational 
principle of exclusion of nine-tenths of the pojjulation. The 
recognition of this principle would be barren of any useful 
consequences to the Protestant Church, and it would be 
a declaration of war against the Catholic Church, whose 
ministers have been the only men of station among the French 
Canadians who never forfeited their fidelity to the mother 


But why introduce the discussion of this principle into 
a school-system ? I am for the unrestricted use of the 
Scriptures, — my Catholic neighbour is against it ; but we are 
both agreed that, practically, in schools their use must be 
restricted ; and therefore it would really seem very foolish of 
either of us to forego the advantages of education merely for 
the sake of asserting a principle which is not in the slightest 
degree affected by our assertion of it on such an occasion. 

I am far from proposing to abandon this principle. In the 
pulpit, or by the family fireside, I would maintain its truth ; 
but I conceive that its assertion, as proposed by the petitioners, 
would be attended with no practical advantage, but, on the 
contrary, with the great practical evil of for ever alienating 
the affections of the majority of our colonists, and of thwart- 
ing the surest means remaining to us of regenerating this 
unhappy land. 

I do not wish to be understood as admitting that these are 
the opinions of the entire Protestant clergy ; perhaps the 
exceptions are as numerous. The Episcopalian clergy are 
almost unanimously hostile to my scheme, the Presbj^rian 
divided ; but I fancy that I may claim the sympathy of a vast 
majority of the different bodies of Dissenters. 

I hardly developed my views to one of the laity of British 
origin, who did not cordially enter into them. From this 
class the strongest support will be given to a liberal scheme. 
The laity of French origin are strongly averse to the amalga- 
mating principle, and of course still more so to the kindred 
principle of Anglification, upon which this as well as all future 
Canadian institutions must be based. Such principles of 
course shock their feelings of nationality, and they would in 
all probability for a long time keep back their children from 
the contemplated schools, were not still more unpopular 
means resorted to to induce them to conform, namely, taxation. 
Hitherto unaccustomed to any contributions, the imposition 
of one even for this purpose would at first be considered 
a great hardship. But it is idle to dream of giving good 
institutions to Canada without calling upon its inhabitants 
for direct pecuniary aid. It is visionary to think of support- 
ing an extensive system of education, simply by grants from 
the public chest, and equally so to rely on the voluntary 
sacrifices of a people, who would rather see their children 
altogether uneducated than set the dangerous precedent of 
doing any thing for themselves. 

To indirect taxation, I found many Canadians not averse ; 
butj upon argument, I found them differ greatly as to what 


were the best objects of sucli taxation : and the more general 
and better opinion I think was, that such a resource was 
uncertain and inadequate. However, there are many reasons 
besides its greater certainty, in favour of direct taxation. There 
is no waste in collection, and the parties who pay see how 
their money is applied. The feeling is irresistibly forced upon 
them, * If we are obliged to pay, we will have our money's 
worth ' ; and however unpopular the schools might be, the 
tax would soon fill them. 

This truth I have shown, by extracts from their reports, 
to have been fully and frequently acknowledged by com- 
mittees of the House of Assembly. 

The principle adopted in the American systems would 
perhaps be the best ; viz. to require each school district to 
furnish, by assessment a,mong its inhabitants, an amount at 
least equivalent to the sum apportioned to it from the public 
funds. In the towns, perhaps, it would not be unreasonable 
to tax to twice that amount. After all, this tax, levied as it 
would be, generally, and according to certain proportions, 
upon the community at large, would fall far more lightly 
than did the demand, under former systems, upon parents 
sending their children to school, of payment at the rate of 
2^. per month for each. 

Supposing that 50 children attended school for eight months 
in the year, formerly 50 parents would have had to pay 165. 
per annum a piece, making in all a sum of 40?. Now I sup- 
pose in such a school district I may safely say there would 
be 100 taxable inhabitants. Accordingly, each (assuming 
they were taxed equally) would only have to pay 85. to make 
up the 40Z. ; or supposing an extra 25. a piece necessary for 
fuel and books, only IO5. or two dollars. It is hardly worth 
while combating the argument, that the expenses of the 
education of children should be borne by their own parents, 
and that they cannot justly be imposed upon those who 
receive no benefit. They all receive a benefit ; and if A.'s 
child cannot go to school because neighbours B., C. and D., 
who have no children, will not help to support the school, 
these same worthy neighbours deserve no public assistance 
in detecting or punishing the depredations which A.'s child, 
from want of a good moral education, and the vicious habits 
engendered by idleness, commits upon their property, or any 
other outrage he perpetrates against them. 

Dr. Meilleur, a member of the House of Assembly, always 
an active member of the Education Committee, and one of 
the principal framers of the rejected Bill of 1836, says, in the 


* Populaire * of the 10th September 1838, that among other 
duties of local trustees there was this, — ' d'obliger tous les 
enf ans a aller a I'^cole de leur arrondissement respectif , depuis 
I'age de 6 ans jusqu'a celui de 12 inclusivement, excepte dans 
le cas d' absence en assistant a une autre ecole, et ce sous 
peine d'une amende de 5 a 20 chelins, que les parens delin- 
quans seraient dans le cas de payer aux sindics par suite 
d'une poursuite intentee par eux, et d'un jugement sommaire 
devant I'un des magistrats du comte. Le montant de telles 
amendes, s'il y en avait, serait employe a procurer aux enfans 
pauvres les choses necessaires a leur ecole, tels que livres, 
papiers, &c. &c. L' obligation pour les parens d'envoyer leurs 
enfans a I'ecole commencerait du jour que I'ecolede I'arron- 
dissement ou serait leur demeure serait ouverte,' &c. 

As regards the character of this proposition, it is just as 
stringent as mine ; but it has the fault of throwing the entire 
burthen on the parents, instead of dividing it among the 
locality. In addition to the payment of half the master's 
salary, the localities should be made, moreover, to supply the 
school-house and master with fuel, and to keep both houses in 
repair. Part of the original expense of building should be 
defrayed from the public education fund (provided that the 
gross amount of such payments should in no single year 
exceed a certain amount, say 2,500?.), and the remainder by 
the locality. 

Perhaps a larger assistance might be afforded under this 
latter head from the education fund for the first two or three 
years, because it would be impossible to bring the whole 
system into immediate operation, and many expenses might 
for that period be saved which must be incurred in a more 
advanced stage. These savings might with great advantage, 
therefore, be employed about this first and indispensable pre- 
liminary ; and in the course of two or three years every 
district in the province might be supplied with its schoolroom 
and master's house. 

Again, when the necessary number of houses is built, of 
course the annual allowance for that purpose will no longer 
be requisite. But are there no other purposes for which it 
might be advantageously continued ? For instance, for the 
formation of district libraries, the collection of apparatus, 
&c. ; on the system, however, in all cases of simply aiding the 
voluntary efforts of the district itself. 

It is impossible for me, with my limited statistical know- 
ledge, to form any but the roughest calculation of the number 
of elementary schools at present necessary. 


The population of Lower Canada in 1836 was estimated at 
about 600,000 ; of this number, perhaps, 100,000 may be 
said to be inhabitants of the large towns. The average of 
children between 5 and 14 is generally supposed to be one in 
five of the whole population. Accordingly, there will be in 
the rural districts 100,000 children of an age to attend schools. 
Supposing, then, 1,300 districts were laid down, this would 
give between 70 and 80 children to each. Of these again, 
perhaps, 20 would be kept away from some cause or another, 
such as that they attended a superior or model school, or that 
they were infirm, or were employed at home in assisting their 
parents. The remaining 50 would be in regular attendance, 
and might easily be all well instructed by a competent master. 

As it is notorious that there are some districts in the pro- 
vince habitually very poor, and that others are liable to 
occasional distress, it will be advisable to have a yearly sum 
to bring to their aid ; such sum never to exceed 2,500?. in 
any one year, and not more than lOl. to be given to any one 

In addition to the elementary schools, it will be necessary 
to have some of a higher description dispersed over the pro- 
vince. Indeed it may be as well at once to adopt for this 
purpose the provision of the Bill of 1836, by which it was 
proposed to erect a model school in each county. 

The cost of these to the education fund, supposing an allow- 
ance of 601. a piece to 40 counties, would be 2,000Z. per annum. 
A sum of 201. additional might without difficulty be raised 
in each county, so as to raise the master's salary to 70?. ; the 
allowance of the 501. being in every case conditional on the 
previous collection of the 201. 

These model schools are of infinite importance, because 
they not only supply the means of a better kind of education 
to the better classes in each county, but may be made to hold 
out strong incentives to the ambition of both masters and 
scholars of elementary schools. 

By the masters they might be considered in the light of 
40 prizes, to which any one of them might reasonably aspire ; 
and a promotion to which, supposing an equality of qualifica- 
tion, should go by preference to an elementary schoolmaster 
of the county in which the vacancy occurs. 

Again, there might be attached to each model school, to 
be raised in like manner from the county, a sort of scholarship 
of the yearly value of lOl. This sum, which of course may 
be increased to any amount that is pleased by voluntary 
subscriptions, should be devoted towards the maintenance at 


the model school of a best boy from each parish, to be elected 
by the inspector or school visitors of the parish from can- 
didates from each school in it. This boy should intend to 
devote himself to the occupation of teacher, and after having 
completed his studies there, should have a certificate of 
qualification for the * indigent list ' at a normal school, or 
some academy receiving government assistance. 

There are 40 counties in the province, and, on an average, 
six parishes or townships in each. Accordingly, each best boy 
would receive a little more than 1?. 135. a year towards his 
maintenance, which would be a consideration to many who 
at the model schools would be out of reach of their own homes, 
and which, taken with its consequences, would present an 
infinitely preferable object of ambition to that of the IO5. 
prize-money of past systems. I am aware how unevenly this 
fixed reward would operate in different parishes according to 
the number of school districts in them ; and, no doubt, the 
suggestion is susceptible of much improvement. My object 
is merely to throw it out as one which will be advantageously 
kept in view. 

Thus there would be in every district a master doing his 
best to be promoted to the model school, and a rivalry among 
the scholars to be sent there as * best boys '. From the model 
schools these latter would get certificates for the normal 
schools, and ultimately obtain masterships which would ensure 
a provision for life. 

In the three normal schools 500?. per annum should be 
devoted to the support of the * indigent list ', which would 
contain 240 members, upon the calculation of parishes above 
referred to, thus assuring to each such member an aid of 
a little more than 21. per annum. 

The nature of these schools is too well known to require 
any minute description. Attached to each should be an 
elementary school, where the future masters should have the 
opportunity of learning the most approved method of teach- 
ing ; and I would strongly urge that to each should also be 
attached a considerable farm, on which the pupils should 
daily work, and where, under the superintendence of a com- 
petent professor, they should make themselves perfectly 
acquainted with the various modem improvements in agricul- 
ture. Hereafter, when the national system is in full operation, 
it will be necessary to require of every person desiring to be 
a schoolmaster under it, a certificate of qualification from the 
normal school or some other, which shall be deemed an 
equivalent qualification. I should conceive that each of these 


three schools to be efficiently supported would require an 
annual support, at all events, for a long period, of 1,000?.* 

Both normal or model schools ought immediately to be set 
on foot, because they may both be made to supply one of the 
first wants of the new system, namely, competent teachers. 
It is very clear that many of those first appointed, whatever 
pains may be taken to select them, will be in need of instruc- 
tion themselves. I would therefore suggest, that all masters 
of elementary schools should be obliged for a certain period 
every year to attend the model schools in their county, until 
they receive a certificate of ' complete qualification ' for their 
duties. With this view there must either be a difference 
between the times of vacation in the model and elementary 
schools, or the masters of the latter during their attendance 
at the former must provide teachers to carry on their business 
for them. By this preparatory education the competency of 
future masters would be ensured. They must also, of course, 
bring to the normal schools, and carry from them untarnished, 
testimonials of good private character. If at a subsequent 
period any of them should be guilty of any great immorality, 
they will be removed by the proper authorities. 

The certainty of a salary of at least 301. per annum, besides 
house and fuel, and the further prospect of promotion to 
a model school, or to some better supported (from local 
advantages) than their own, would hold out sufficient induce- 
ment to men of character and talent to follow the calling of 
teacher, which then, instead of being, as now, the worst in 
the country, would be among the best. Perhaps the erection 
of new institutions, or the provisions of new laws, such, for 
instance, as those of a Registry Act, may create duties which 
the schoolmaster may be the most fitting person in the locality 
to perform. Here at once there would be a safety-valve for 
all that waste talent which I have described as finding no 
outlet under the present system, and endangering society by its 
irregular outbreaks. Here are at once 1 ,300 new places of profit 
to which well-educated men may look for honourable support. 

But not only are these incentives held out to masters ; 
their power of doing harm is much abridged ; all interference 

* The normal schools should, if possible, be in the neighbourhood of each 
of the three great towns. There is a farm near Beauport, forming part of 
the Jesuits' estates, now under a lease which will shortly expire, and the 
remainder of which might advantageously be purchased. This would be 
a most desirable spot for the normal school in the district of Quebec. 
It would also be of great utility to attach a farm to each model school. 
I imagine that there would be little danger of the cost of purchase and 
implements, &c. being before long repaid out of the produce. 



with politics is interdicted, under penalty of removal ; their 
powers of interference in matters connected with religion are 
strictly limited ; their scholars are obliged to bring with them 
books specified by a superior authority ; in short, little is left 
to a master's mere discretion ; his chief care must be to act up 
to his instructions, and to maintain his character for decency 
and diligence. 

I now come to the provisions for inspection and supervision, 
in which the vitality of every system of education must essen- 
tially reside. However good the scheme may be in theory, 
with whatever precautions it may be guarded in written books 
of rules and Acts of Parliament, all is of no avail unless that 
scheme is watched, and those precautions enforced by an 
honest and active inspection. The church, and more especi- 
ally the Catholic branch of it, have long maintained that 
the education of the people is emphatically their department, 
and ought by right to be subjected to their immediate con- 
trol. Heretofore, when that body monopolized all the learning 
of the times, it was right to concede this claim ; but a different 
distribution of intelligence exists in the present day. The 
science of education is now more generally known, and a more 
general interest felt in its advancement. The people every 
where assert their right to some share in the management of 
institutions for which they pay, and which are intended for 
their benefit ; and a long experience has shown the advantage 
of paying well for direct responsibility over confiding to the 
zeal of unremunerated, and therefore independent, service. 

Clerical control and national schools are incompatible in 
a country where there exist two religions ; and it is very 
certain that the clergy would not be over anxious to carry 
out a scheme founded, like the one which I have sketched, on 
the principle of perfect religious equality. 

The Catholic clergy are very hostile to any plan which does 
not give them the nomination of masters, at all events, in 
Catholic parishes. They assert that there is no other guarantee 
of their morality. The experience of the class of persons w^ho 
filled that ofiice under previous Canadian systems, by the 
appointment of illiterate and partizan trustees, justifies to 
a great extent their jealousies on this point ; but I conceive 
that, under the management which I have in view, there is 
no room for their apprehensions. 

But I would give the resident clergy a concurrent power 
with the local trustees in the selection of masters ; and in 
their character of visitors, which they should be ex officio in 
all their parish schools they would have the opportunity of 


reporting upon any misconduct which they might discover in 
them, and forcing an investigation by the proper authorities. 
That this investigation is not to be honestly conducted under 
the precautions which I propose to enforce is an ungenerous 
and unwarranted imputation. 

I now come to the question of popular or local control. 
The past systems, which left the entire direction to trustees 
elected by the inhabitants, afford a bad example of the con- 
sequences of unchecked local control ; and if a new system, 
however superior in other respects, were left to similar manage- 
ment, I see no reason for expecting for it a different fate. 
At the same time, in matters so interesting to every locality 
as the proper conduct of the schoolmaster, the proper ex- 
penditure of school monies, and, in general, the proper working 
of the school system, it is clear that they should have some 
direct and considerable control. Perhaps, however, instead of 
taking up any more time by abstract arguments, it will be better 
to give at once a slight sketch of the machinery by which I pro- 
pose to carry on the government of the national system. 

I will begin by assuming that the country is to be divided 
into municipalities, of an extent suitable to the operation of 
my plan. In each municipality a certain number (say three) 
school-commissioners should be elected, in the same manner 
and at the same time as the other local officers. One of these 
should go out yearly, there being, however, no restriction as 
to re-election. Their duty should be to receive the govern- 
ment allowance for all the schools in the municipality, and 
to distribute their respective shares to the trustees of each 
district. The legal estate in all the elementary school-houses 
in their municipality, and in all the real property attached to 
them, should be vested in them ; and they should direct, 
subject to appeal, the formation of new districts.* They would 
have to report to the inspector annually upon the financial 
concerns of the municipality under their management ; and 
also, at the proper time, upon the districts that they have 
formed, or those that they have proposed and have been 
objected to, together with the statements pro and con. 

A district being formed, three trustees should be elected by 
the inhabitants, in the same manner and for the same period 
as the commissioners. Their duties would be to superintend 
the financial concerns of the district. They would have to 

* There have been so many complaints of the past unfairness of the 
divisions of districts, that I should recommend, as I have before said, the 
first arrangements of this description to be made under the immediate 
superintendence of an Education Commission. 


collect the tax, and hold the government allowance, making 
quarterly payments of both to the master. They would also 
see that the provisions of the law respecting the repairs and 
warming of the school-house, &c., were properly attended to ; 
in short, they would manage the daily concerns of the school. 
To them, in conjunction with all the ministers of religion in 
the parish or township, should be intrusted the appointment 
of the master. Of course the person they select must possess 
the certificate from a normal or other school ; in short, all the 
qualifications required by law. Once, or oftener, they must 
report to the inspector, and a copy of their report be posted 
in some conspicuous place, or deposited somewhere where all 
the inhabitants might have access to it. 

There should also be a board of school visitors in each muni- 
cipality, composed of the following members ; the resident 
ministers of religion, two residents appointed by the inspector, 
and two annually by the municipality. Their duties should be 
to inspect the reports of the commissioners and trustees before 
presentation to the inspector, and make their comments 
thereon if necessary ; to visit (in a body of three at least) 
each school four times a year, at irregular periods, and without 
notice, and to report quarterly to the inspector. A copy of their 
report should also be placed within reach of the inhabitants of 
each district. If there is any difference of opinion among the 
visitors, the same should be expressed in the report. 

In the three large towns this management must be slightly 
different. In each a certain number of public elementary 
schools (liable of course from time to time to considerable 
variation) should be established by commissioners elected for 
that purpose, in the same manner as the other municipal 
officers. At the same time should be elected (say 19) trustees 
to have similar powers with those in rural districts, a certain 
number going out yearly, and others being elected in their 
stead. The visitors should be the heads or seniors of each 
religious denomination, or their deputies ; five persons elected 
by the municipality, and five by the inspector. The same 
regularity of reporting and publicity, &c., Avill be required 
here as in the country. 

The province should be divided into three inspectorships, 
comprising as nearly as possible an equal population, and 
under the direction of three inspectors appointed by the 
Governor ; one to reside at Quebec, another at Montreal, and 
the third either at Three Rivers, or some more convenient 
place. Their duties should be to receive and collate the 
reports of all subordinate officers ; to determine, subject to 


appeal to the superintendent, all questions relating to the 
schools in their inspectorship ; and to report twice a year to 
the superintendent, each report to be printed in one or more 
newspapers most in circulation in that part of the country, 
and a copy to be sent to each municipality. Once a year, if 
possible, or, at all events, twice in three years, they should 
visit every school of every grade, in their inspectorship, 
receiving government aid. These are offices of so much 
importance, that in order to attract well-qualified persons 
a handsome salary must be attached to them. For this pur- 
pose, I should think 400Z. a year to each would be sufficient, 
^vith an additional lOOl. for travelling expenses. 

The office of superintendent or chief officer of instruction 
ought to be one of the highest dignity in the province. He 
should keep himself (and so should the inspectors), under 
penalty of removal, completely aloof from politics. He is to 
be trustee of the permanent education fund, and is to dis- 
tribute it according to the prescribed proportions He will 
have to lay down rules as to what books are to be used in 
schools, the hours of attendance, &c., and to interpret the Act 
under which the system is created. His decisions should be 
binding in all matters relating to school discipline. He should 
receive the reports of the inspectors, and lay them, together 
with his comments on them, as well as his observations on 
the general concerns and condition of education in the pro- 
vince, annually before the legislature. This report, like all 
the others, should receive the widest possible circulation. He 
should reside at the seat of government, where an office and 
secretary should be found him, and should have a suitable 
salary, say 8001. a year. As the working of the system will 
materially depend upon this officer, it is needless to urge the 
necessity of a discreet selection, and of the most careful 
accuracy in defining his powers. Both he and the inspectors 
should hold office during good behaviour. There is some 
difficulty in determining the authority by which their alleged 
offences should be tried, and by which, in case of conviction, 
they should be removed. Perhaps, if a new court of appeals 
is established, on the principle which I understand is in your 
Lordship's contemplation to recommend, such would be the 
most fitting tribunal to adjudicate in these cases. 

Such, then, my Lord, are the principles on which, in my 
opinion, a national system of education for Lower Canada 
should be based, and such the rough outline of the machinery 
by which it should be worked. I have made no attempt at 
originality, but have constantly kept in view, as models, the 


systems in force in Prussia and the United States, particularly 
the latter, as being more adapted to the circumstances of the 
colony. The office of inspector is somewhat new to that 
system, and provides, I think, against its most serious defects, 
but almost every other suggestion which I have made is 
vindicated by the most successful experience in one or the 
other of those countries. 

From a system so founded and so managed, I anticipate 
the happiest results. It would be one into which religious 
dissensions could not find their way, and which political men 
would have no power to pervert. It would impress upon the 
people the important truth, that education was as much their 
own concern as that of their rulers. It would forward ener- 
getically the great national objects we should have in view, — 
uniting the two races and Anghfying the Canadian. It would 
be provided with teachers well qualified in station, character 
and acquirements ; and pursuits of utility would be encouraged 
in forms at once popular and practical. A general feeling of 
emulation would be created, both among masters and pupils, 
by the prospect of honourable and substantial distinction. 
Its faithful administration would be guaranteed at once by 
the interestedness of its subordinate officers, and the dis- 
interestedness of the superintendent and inspectors ; but, 
above aU, by that best of human securities, the perfect 
publicity of its minutest details. 

That such a system will at first be assailed by a great many 
objections, I will admit. By the great mass of Dissenters 
and by nearly all the British laity, I believe, it will be fully 
approved. And, indeed, to each of those parties, among which 
its opponents will be found, there will be many parts of it 
highly acceptable. All religious denominations, for instance, 
will approve of its guarantees against political contamination, 
and politicians will not find fault with its being j)laced out of 
the control of the Church. Of course, a variety of exceptions 
may be taken to the details of my scheme, particularly to my 
imperfect development of them, but by these I do not profess 
to abide. I thought some such sketch as I have given was 
necessary for the illustration of it, and I am quite ready to 
believe that, in order to render it practicable, many important 
alterations must be made. 

If, however, the unpopularity and not the intrinsic merits 
of measures is to be a consideration now, I should conceive 
that the trouble of legislating for Lower Canada might as 
well be spared. Unless the principle of Anglification is to be 
unequivocally recognized, and inflexibly carried out, of course 



such proposals as mine must fall to the ground ; but, if it 
is to be recognized and carried out, where will its popularity 
be found ? Is it not, in other words, waging direct war with 
the dearest prejudices and fondest hopes of the vast majority 
of the people ? and can any caution, in the way of half- 
measures or of delay, deceive them as to the object, or disarm 
or even mitigate their hostility ? It is not without feelings 
of sincere aversion that those who avow liberal principles of 
government can so far abandon them, as to entertain pro- 
positions like these for trampling upon the opinions and 
feelings of the majority. But, j^et, in Lower Canada, original 
blunders and continuous mismanagement have produced such 
desperate diseases as to leave none but desperate remedies. 
The colony will not be worth our keeping unless it is Anglified. 
The French majority detest and will resist such an attempt. 
If made, it must be made at once, and vigorously, — openly 
avowed and steadily pursued. Every new institution given 
to the country must be subservient to this end, which, the 
sooner accomplished, the shorter the struggle, and the earlier 
the recompense ; but, in the painful interval, popularity 
must not be hoped for, conciliation not attempted. 

Such considerations alone have induced me to submit 
suggestions, which I feel sure, under other circumstances, 
would be repugnant to your Excellency's generous disposition 
and liberal principles. 

A question still remains — * How is this system to be sup- 
ported ? ' The annual demand on the permanent fund for 
the maintenance of the elementary school-system, when it is 
in full operation, would, on the foregoing calculation, be about 
as follows : — 

161. a piece towards masters' salaries to 1,300 
schools ...... 

Towards building houses .... 

Towards relieving poor districts 

501. a piece to 40 model schools 

Three normal schools, including 500/. between 
them for * indigent list ' . . . 

Three inspectors, including travelling expenses 

One superintendent, secretary and office . 

Printing, &c. in different departments 







The elementary schools in the three great towns are still 
unprovided for. Considering their large population, and that 

1352.3 TT 


there every child would be within reach of the schools, a less 
sum than 1,000/!. a year to each of the cities of Quebec and 
Montreal, and 500/. to Three Rivers, would not be sufficient. 
Before, however, either should be entitled to its grant, it 
should have raised, by taxation, a sum of twice that amount. 
This would raise the annual charge on the education fund to 
35,000/. The cost to the inhabitants, to be raised by tax, 
and added to the above sum, would be, in town and country, — 

Towards masters' salaries in elementary schools . 24,500 
Ditto .... in model . ditto . 800 

Towards scholarships ..... 400 


Great as these two amounts appear, they are not under 
either head as large as would have been required to carry out 
the provisions of the rejected Bill of 1836. The sum to have 
been supplied from the public chest, for the support of elemen- 
tary model and normal schools, would have amounted to 
upwards of 40,000/. per annum ; and the following sums 
would have been raised from the inhabitants by assessment, 
or by monthh^ or irregular payments. 

The country was to be divided into 1,658 districts. Now, 
supposing, that in each school there was only the minimum 
number of children (namely 20) in attendance for eight months 
only in the year. Each of these being required to pay 2^. 
per month, the aggregated payments under this head, arising 
from the inhabitants, would have amounted to 26,528/. 
This is supposing, as I have said, that only 20 children were 
in attendance at each school, or 33,160 in all ; whereas the 
number of children throughout the province, between 5 and 
14 years of age, is calculated at about 100,000. 

In addition to these monthly payments, localities were 
made to contribute 2,000/. a year as their share towards the 
salaries of masters of model schools. Their share in the cost 
of building school-houses, was to have been 2,000/. a year at 
the least, I believe ; and estimating the cost of books at only 
72/., there would be coming on the whole from the pockets of 
the inhabitants, in respect of elementarj^ education in the 
rural districts alone, a yearly sum of 30,600/. ; whereas under 
the system I propose, the inhabitants of the same districts 
would be only taxed to the yearly amount of 25,000/. There 
is this further difference, I think, in favour of mine, that the 
raising of the 30,600/. fell entirelj^ upon, at most, 33,160 


13nts, whereas my 25,000/. will be divided probably between 
,000 tax payers. 

Under the system, then, proposed by the Bill of 1836, 
33,160 children might receive a very miserable education 
at a cost of about 71,000/. per annum ; under the system 
I propose, at least twice that number of children may receive 
a very excellent education at a yearly cost of onty 57,000/. 

Still, however, the question remains unanswered, from 
what source is a permanent education fund of 35,000/. per 
annum to be raised ? The only means towards it at present 
available to the province, are the yearly revenues of the 
Jesuits' estates and the 20,000/. belonging to the same fund, 
which are, or which ought to be, in the hands of the receiver- 
general. The 20,000/. if well invested, might produce 1,200/. 
a year ; . and the estates under good management, to yield an 
available income, shortly, of 3,500/. ; hereafter possibly, of 
5,000/. or 10,000/.-^ Still, 30,000/. a year, remains to be per- 
manently secured. 

The only sources to which to look for this, are probably the 
following : — 

1st. A compensation from the Home Government for the 
Jesuits' barracks, which in point of justice belong, of course, 
just as much to the education fund as any other part of these 
estates. This though no more than an act of justice, would 
be felt as one of grace. 

2d. The clergy reserves. There is no doubt as to the almost 
universal popularity of such an appropriation of this much- 
disputed fund. The entire Episcopalian clergy, and half the 
Presbyterian, would be violently opposed to it ; but I think 
I may say, that with very few exceptions, every one else in 
the province would hail it as a happy expedient for at the 
same time putting an end to a great national quarrel, and con- 
ferring a great national boon. 

It is impossible to estimate with any exactness the value 
of this concession to the education fund ; but perhaps it may 
be safe to say, that, in addition to what may be permanently 
secured from the above and other sources, annual appropria- 
tions of from 20,000/. to 25,000/. will still be needed from the 
provincial treasury. This is much to be regretted, but there 
is no alternative. Complete independence of the legislature 
is of course unattainable ; but it is to be hoped that, if that 
body is reconstituted or reformed, the cause of education 

* Mr. Dunkin, in his report, which I had not received A\'hen the above 
was Avritten, estimates the probable future income of the Jesuits' estates 
at a far higher amount. 



need not henceforth apprehend danger from the indifference 
or dishonesty of any of its component parts. 

In his annual report, the superintendent will lay before 
each branch of the legislature an account of the expenses of 
the system, and, after meeting them as far as he is able by its 
* permanent funds ', will appty to the province for the re- 
mainder. If this is refused from any capricious motives, the 
system must fall to the ground ; but such a refusal would 
argue a state of things in which it would be impossible for 
education or any other useful institution to thrive. 

I have as yet said nothing of the encouragement of superior 
educational institutions. The best system for adoption 
respecting these would perhaps be one closely resembling that 
in force in the state of New York, namely, to distribute 
annually a fixed sum between all the establishments of this 
grade in the province (with certain provisions as regards legal 
incorporation, property and tuition) in proportion to the 
number of pupils attending each. They should have been 
incorporated in accordance with the provisions of a general, 
incorporation law, and their permanence thereby secured. 
They should have been endowed to a certain reasonable 
extent, and their teaching should be of a certain character, 
so as to give them the rank of academies or colleges. They 
should be subject to an annual visitation of an inspector, and 
be required to conform to such purely literary injunctions as 
might from time to time be specified as conditions of the 
public grant. One invariable condition should be the teach- 
ing of English, in a manner satisfactory to the inspector. 

An amount of probably from 4,000?. to 5,000?. per annum 
would be necessary to serve as an incentive to the erection 
and endowment of such institutions. A portion of this sum 
might with advantage be laid out in the shape of a contribu- 
tion towards academies, which should themselves raise a like 
sum, (50?. for instance) for the purchase of books and appa- 
ratus. It would be desirable also, in consideration of the 
lamentable deficiency of the means of superior education 
within reach of the higher and middle classes of British origin 
to devote 250?. per annum towards the support of each of two 
large English grammar or public schools at Montreal and 
Quebec, upon a like sum in each place being first of all pro- 
vided by voluntary contribution. These schools, however, 
should be open to all, the teaching being entirely in English. 
The same restrictions as to religious instruction should be in 
force as in the elementary schools. The trustees should be 
chosen by the subscribers out of their otvti body. The nomina- 


tion of the masters should originate with them, but be subject 
to the approval of the superintendent ; and, in case of dis- 
agreement, the Governor should decide. 

Nor would this annual grant of 5,000?. for superior educa- 
tion quite equal those made for a similar purpose for the last 
five years, the average of which was about 5,200?. 

The claim upon the permanent fund would now, for the 
entire support of every species of education, amount to 40,000?. 
per annum. 

I have before noticed the great anxiety of the higher class 
of colonists of British origin for the establishment of a univer- 
sity. I am fully sensible of its advantages, but will abstain 
from saying more on the subject than that its character and 
means of support must depend materially upon the nature of 
the future government of Canada. If any union of the British 
North American provinces is effected, a university, jointly 
endowed by them, might be erected on a most comprehensive 
scale, embracing faculties of arts, theology, law, medicine, &c. 
Its proper seat would seem to be Quebec. 

In conclusion, if any system such as I have sketched should 
ultimately be adopted and confirmed by law, I should strongly 
recommend that it should gradually be put in force by a board 
of commissioners somewhat similarly constituted to that of 
the board of Poor Law Commissioners in this country. 

The following would be among their earliest duties. To set 
the normal and model schools in operation, and at once open 
the elementary schools on the new system in the three great 
towns ; to lose no time in dividing the country into districts, 
either personally, or by means of assistant commissioners, 
visiting every locality, and superintending the necessary 
arrangements ; and to appoint two committees, one com- 
posed, as before suggested, of clergymen of different per- 
suasions, to prepare a book of Bible -extracts ; and another 
composed according to their discretion, and under their own 
immediate control, of persons whose province it should be to 
draw up a list of books fit to be used in the elementary, model 
and normal schools, and also a series of rules and regulations 
for their management, in strict conformity with the provisions 
of the new Act. 

Until the system should be sufiiciently advanced to require 
the aid of the inspectors and superintendent, this commission 
would of course continue to sit and exercise their functions. 

Such, my Lord, are the principal suggestions for a future 
plan of education for Lower Canada, which the past history 
and present condition of that country, and the analogies of 


similar experiments in other countries, in my opinion, combine 
in recommending. 

In laying them before your Lordship, I am fully sensible of 
their many imperfections. 

I have, &c. 
(signed) Arthur Buller. 


REPORT of Mr. Dunkin, the Secretary to the 
Commission. (Extract.) 

Cap. II. 

Outlines of the History of the Jesuits' Estates as an 
Edi^ CATION AL ENDOWMENT in Lowcr Canada. 

It would neither be useful nor interesting to recount the 
dates at which the various properties at any period held by 
the order of Jesuits in Lower Canada originally came into 
their possession, the names of the individuals who gave, 
bequeathed or sold them to that order, the motives assigned 
for the gift or bequest of the greater part, and the transfers 
or alienations by the Jesuits of particular jiortions of them. 
For the purposes of the present report, little more is required 
than a brief outline of the proceedings which have taken 
place since the conquest in regard to these possessions, their 
administration, and the uses to which the revenues drawn 
from them have been put. 

At the period of the cession of Canada, in 1763, the order of 
Jesuits was in possession of a number of seigniories and other 
properties in different parts of the province, of great extent 
and considerable value. They had houses of residence in 
Quebec, Three Rivers and Montreal ; their residence in Quebec 
being the large building now used as a barrack in the upper 
town, and still one of the most extensive buildings in Lower 
Canada. In this building was their chief residence and college. 
Their other property was scattered over the province ; four 
seigniories, of considerable size and value, besides a fifth of 
little or none, and several valuable tracts of land, in and near 
the city of Quebec, belonging to them, within the district of 
Quebec ; two of the largest seigniories in the province, and 
a great part of the town of Three Rivers, being theirs in the 
district of that name ; and a small property in the city of 
Montreal, with two large seigniories (one of them, however, 


only held in trust for the Iroquois Indians), being in their 
possession in the district of Montreal. Of these properties, 
the greater part had been given or bequeathed to them ; 
a comparatively small portion had been purchased. The whole 
had been confirmed to them in mortmain, by letters patent 
of the French King, his governors or intendants in the pro- 
vince. In the official documents by Avhich their title was thus 
confirmed, the object of the endowment was in almost every 
instance stated to be the maintenance of their college, and 
the instruction of the youth of Canada by their order. The 
original bequests or deeds of gift, in many instances, gave 
other motives ; the conversion of the heathen, friendship for 
the Jesuits, &c. The royal letters patent, however, explained 
the whole as above stated ; the Jesuits appearing to have 
requested this form of confirmation, on account of the tenor 
of their vows of poverty, and the consequent necessity of their 
holding all their possessions under this pretext. 

In the articles of capitulation by which Canada was tem- 
porarily ceded by the French General, an attempt was made to 
introduce a guarantee for the continued maintenance of this 
order in the province, and the perpetual possession by them 
of their estates. This proposal of the Marquis of Vaudreuil 
^^as, however, set aside, and no such guarantee given or 
implied, either in the capitulation or in the treaty of 1763, by 
^\hich the country was finally ceded to Great Britain. 

NotwithvStanding this refusal, however, to recognise the 
order, the Jesuits remained in the undisturbed possession 
of most of their property for many years. A part of their 
college building in Quebec was taken possession of by the 
government, as a public storehouse, immediately after the 
conquest, and continued to be used for this purpose till 1776, 
when the greater part of the building was taken possession of 
as a barrack, a use to which the whole building has been 
devoted since the year 1800, when the last surviving member 
of the order died, A part of the mission-house, in Montreal, 
was also occupied as a public prison, before the death of its 
last inmate, and the whole building was converted into 
a prison on that event. In the year 1774, royal instructions 
were given to the Governor for the suppression and dissolu- 
tion of the order of Jesuits ; ' all their rights, privileges and 
property ' to be vested in the Crown, ' for such purposes as 
the Crown might hereafter think fit to direct and appoint.' 
The royal intention, however, was at the same time declared 
to be, * that the present members of the society, as established 
at Quebec, should be allowed sufficient stipends and provisions 


during their natural lives.' In point of fact, the Jesuits were 
allowed to continue in the possession and management of their 
productive estates, and to draw from them the ' stipends and 
provisions ' promised in these instructions in lieu of them. 
Father Well, the last survivor of the Jesuits resident in 
Montreal, administered the properties in that district till his 
death, and Fathers De Glapion and Casot (the latter not him- 
self a Jesuit) those in the district of Quebec, till the death of 
the former. Shortly after this event, viz. on the 8th of March 
1800, the Crown took unreserved possession of the estates, 
and they have since remained under its management. 

The suppression of the order of Jesuits in France took place 
in the year 1762, and in Italy in the year 1773. The posses- 
sions of the order were, in the former country, at once devoted 
to the support of institutions of education ; in some cases, to 
the support of the colleges originally founded by the Jesuits 
(but then placed under other government) ; in other cases, 
to that of schools and colleges which had never been under 
their control. 

From the year 1770 to the year 1803 a claim was under 
discussion, urged by Lord Amherst, for a roj^al grant to that 
nobleman of these estates, or the greater part of them, as 
a mark of royal acknowledgment of his services in tlie reduc- 
tion of Canada. After repeated references to the Privy 
Council and to the Law Officers of the Cro^vn, both in England 
and Canada, and more than one order in council enjoining 
the Governor of Canada to issue, or the Law Officers to pre- 
pare, a deed of gift, conferring them, with one or more reserva- 
tions, on his Lordship, the project was at last abandoned in 
1803, after the death of the original claimant ; and the claims 
of his son and heir were met by a grant voted him by the 
Imperial Parliament in that year. In the course of these 
discussions, a commission was issued by Lord Dorchester, 
then Governor of Canada, on the 7th of January 1788, in 
obedience to an Order in Council, to inquire into the extent, 
value, tenure, &c. of the estates, with a view to deciding 
whether and by what means the proposed grant could be 
made. The report of the commission, though far from com- 
plete in point of information, and indeed not even unanimous, 
was altogether in favour of the grant, a result which was to 
have been expected. The report of the Attorney and Solicitor- 
general of Canada, made at the same time, was to the same 
tenor. Subsequently raised objections, however, defeated the 

During this period several attempts were made by parties 


in Canada to obtain from the ,Crown a''grant of these estates, 
for the support of education within the province. 

In the year 1787, the legislative council of the province, on 
the suggestion of Lord Dorchester, then Governor-general, 
appointed a committee to inquire into the means of advancing 
education, &c. The report of the committee was made in 
1789. For the present purpose, we have to do only with so 
much of it as relates to the Jesuits' estates. In a letter from 
the Roman Catholic Bishop of Quebec, dated November 18, 
1789, addressed to the committee, and published in their 
report, that prelate urged the propriety of again devoting the 
college -building in Quebec to educational purposes, of endow- 
ing the new institution to be thus opened with these estates, 
and placing it, when thus endowed, first under the control of 
the surviving Jesuits, for their lives, and then under that of 
the Roman Catholic Bishop of Quebec, as the head of the 
Catholic Church in the province. The committee in their 
report, dated 26 November 1789, recommend that a portion 
at least (and it is to be inferred a considerable portion) of 
these estates be given as an endowment, to aid in the erection 
of a proposed ' Colonial College ', of the constitution of which 
they present an outline. According to this scheme, the college 
was to have been constituted on the most liberal principles. 
Catholics and Protestants respectively to provide each their 
own system of religious instruction for the students of their 
own communion ; the corporation to consist of an equal 
number of members of each communion, and the visitation 
to be vested in the Crown. 

On the 31st of December in the same year (1789), Father 
de Glapion, the titular superior of the dissolved order, pro- 
posed by letter, on his own part and that of his three surviving 
fellow Jesuits, to make over the estates 'for the benefit of 
the Canadian citizens of the province of Lower Canada ', 
with the reservation for themselves of a residence within their 
former dwellings, and a life pension of 3,000 livres each per 
annum, and on condition that the estates so made over should 
for ever be applied to educational purposes under the direction 
of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Quebec. 

Early in the year 1793, during the first session of the Pro- 
vincial Parliament of Lower Canada, created by the con- 
stitutional Act of 1791, a petition, signed principally by 
persons of British origin, was presented to the House of 
Assembly from the city and county of Quebec, praying the 
House to urge upon the Crown the propriety of giving up 
the estates to the disposal of the provincial legislature, for the 


support of education in the province ; a destination, it was 
urged, which would, more than any other, be in accordance 
with the design of those who endowed the order with these 
possessions, and the spirit of the letters patent of the French 
King, which confirmed them to the order, for educational 
objects only. 

On the llth of April of the same year, the House adopted 
an address to the Crown, embodying the substance, and 
urging the prayer of this petition. No answer was given to 
this address ; the project of granting the estates to Lord 
Amherst being the one then favoured by Government. 

During the session of the Provincial Parliament held in the 
year 1800 (the year in which the final occupancy of the estates 
by the Crown took place), the House of Assembly again took 
up the subject, and voted an address to the Governor, praying 
his Excellency to communicate to the House certain docu- 
ments, ' to facilitate the investigation of the claims and pre- 
tensions of the province, on the Jesuits' College converted into 
barracks, and to the estates of that order, &c.' His Excel- 
lency's reply informed the House, * that in consequence of the 
address of the House of Assembly, of the llth of April 1793, 
the claims of the province had been considered by his Majesty 
in Council, and that the result of that consideration had been 
an order to take possession of those estates for the Crown. 
That if, after this explanation the House should deem it 
advisable to investigate, they should have access to the 
documents required ; but any further application on the 
subject might be inconsistent with the accustomed respect of 
the House of Assembly for the decision of his Majesty, on 
matters connected with his prerogative.' No further action 
was had in consequence of this reply on the subject for several 

Since the final occupation of the estates by the Crown in 
1800, their administration has been vested by a series of com- 
missions ; first in a board of five commissioners, holding 
ofiice during pleasure ; some years afterwards in a board of 
eight, and then in a board of six ; and, lastly, in a single 
commissioner, the Honourable John Stewart, w^ho still holds 
that ofiice, and who had been a member of the board for several 
years before he became sole commissioner. The successive 
changes which have taken place under the several commissions 
which have been issued, and their dates, are not material to 
the purpose of the present report. 

The revenues of the estates during the interval between 
this period and the year 1831, (when they were surrendered 


to the Provincial Parliament for the support of education), 
were appropriated by the local executive as a part of the 
property of the Crown, and no report as to the mode of their 
application was made public. 

In 1812, the legislative council voted an address to the 
Prince Regent, praying for the devotion of these estates to 
the support of education. The address was sent down to the 
Assembly for concurrence ; but, owing probably in a great 
degree to the pressure of business and the excitement growing 
out of the war with the United States, then just commencing, 
it was not then acted upon. The address does not appear to 
have been noticed by the government ; in part, doubtless, 
from the same cause. 

From this time till 1824, little was done on this subject. 
In the session of 1824, however, a special committee of the 
House, appointed for the purpose, submitted a long and 
elaborate report, setting forth the proceedings connected with 
the suppression of the order of Jesuits, both in France and 
Canada, and urging the unreserved devotion of the estates 
once possessed by them to educational objects, in the latter 
as well as in the former country. The report was concurred 
in by the Assembly. 

In the session of 1825-6, the discussion of the subject was 
again resumed, and another special committee named, to 
inquire into the kindred topics of the Jesuits' estates and the 
state of education in the province. In accordance with the 
report of that committee, it was resolved, on the 20th of 
March 1826, to address the Crown anew, in behalf of the claims 
of the provincial parliament to the revenues of the estates for 
the advancement of education. To this address no answer 
was made. 

In 1827 a variety of complaints urged by the House of 
Assembly of Lower Canada were laid before the Imperial 
Parliament, the disposition and management of the Jesuits' 
estates being among the number of ' grievances ' complained 
of. The Canada committee of the House of Commons, in 
1828, reported in favour of the application of the proceeds of 
the estates ' to the purposes of general education '. 

In the month of March 1831, resolutions were again adopted 
by the House of Assembly of Lower Canada, complaining, 
among a number of other things, of the continued with- 
holding of the Jesuits' estates from this use and from their 
control ; and another address to the Crown was voted, 
embodying all these complaints. A despatch of Lord Goderich 
(then Colonial Secretary), dated 7th July 1831, and containing 



the reply of the Government to the demands urged in this 
address, concedes, at least on this point, almost all that 
the Assembly had demanded. By this despatch, the future 
revenue of the estates was placed at the disposal of the pro- 
vincial legislature for the support of education, with a recom- 
mendation only to the House, in favour of the continuance 
of a provision to those * scholastic establishments ' (the 
grammar schools of Quebec and Montreal) which had up to 
that period been sustained by its means. In this cession of 
the estates, however, the Jesuits' College was not included, 
except upon condition of the erection by the province of 
* adequate barracks ', for the accommodation of the troops 
which had been for so many years quartered there. 

A number of other measures were proposed to the Assembly 
by Lord Goderich, for the settlement of the controverted 
questions of the civil list, &c., out of the agitation of which 
the address of the Assembly had had its origin. To these the 
House did not assent. The surrender of the Jesuits' estates 
alone was ratified by a legislative enactment of that year, 
the 2d Will. 4, c. 41. By this law it is enacted, that from and 
after the date of its passage, ' all monies arising out of the 
estates of the late order of Jesuits, which now are in or may 
hereafter come into the hands of the receiver-general of this 
province, shall be placed in a separate chest in the vaults 
wherein the public monies of the province are kept, and 
shall be applied to the purposes of education exclusively, in 
the manner provided by this Act, or by any Act or Acts 
which may hereafter be passed by the provincial legislature, 
and not otherwise.' The Act then proceeds to appropriate, 
for the next year only ; i. e. till October 1, 1832, the following 
sums : — 

For the expenses of management of the estates : 

The commissioner's salary . . £.180 sterling. 
Allowance for clerk hire . . 90 

Allowance for contingencies . . 80 


For the royal grammar school in Quebec : 

Master's salary .... £.200 sterling. 
Allowance for house rent . . 90 


For the royal grammar school in Montreal : 

Master's salary .... £.200 sterling. 
Allowance for house rent . . 54 



In all, 8^/. sterling, or 993Z. 65. Sd. currency ; the * pound 
sterling ' of the law being that in which the receiver-general's 
accounts are kept (dl. sterling equalling 10^. Halifax cur- 
rency), and not the true ' pound sterling ' of English money. 
The above amounts were all copied into the Act from the 
estimates proposed, and are the amounts which had for some 
time previous been allowed from the estates for those purposes 

The Act, of which the above is an outline, was adopted by 
the House on the recommendation of a special committee, to 
which so much of Lord Goderich's despatch as related to the 
estates had been referred. That committee accompanied their 
Bill with an explanatory report, which was adopted by the 
House, and to which I shall have occasion hereafter to refer 
more than once. On the subject of the retention of the 
Jesuits' barracks, this report proposes to the House no im- 
mediate action, but expresses the confident anticipation that 
* the justice of his Majesty's government ' will ere long com- 
plete the restitution of the estates, without insisting upon 
a condition, a compliance with which on the part of the pro- 
vince would exhaust the revenues of the estates for several 

Appended to the report of the committee on the Journals 
of the House is an abstract (drawn up apparently by some 
member of the committee) of the accounts of the estates for 
the 31 years from 1800 to 1831, as reported to the committee 
on this occasion. It is not easy to reconcile some of the 
statements made in this abstract with the contents of other 
papers embodying official information on the subject. I was 
not, however, able to give to this part of the inquiry a suffi- 
cient amount of time, to feel warranted in positively asserting 
any contradiction between the two authorities, or in attempt- 
ing to discuss at length the points on which they seem to 

From this table it would seem that the total amount re- 
ceived into the hands of the treasurer of the estates * or 

* The receipts of the estates (after the deduction of an allowance of 
10 per cent, to the agents for collection) were deposited under the earlier 
commissions in the hands of a ' treasurer of the Jesuits' estates ', for safe 
keeping and disbursement. This office was for a number of years held by 
the receivers-general of the province ; first, by Mr. Henry Caldwell, and 
on his death, by his son, Sir John CaldweU. After the discovery of 
Sir John's defalcations (from which, as will be seen presently, the revenue 
of the Jesuits' estates as well as the general revenues of the province 
suffered) the treasurership of the Jesuits' estates was held by one of the 
commissioners, the Hon. H. W. Ryland. Shortly after the appointment of 
the Hon. John Stewart as sole commissioner, the revenues of the estates 


receiver-general for the 31 years between 1800 and 1831 was 
49,583/. 145. 3^. currency, being on an average not quite 
1,600Z. currency yearly, for the entire period. Of this sum 
there had been expended during the same time upon the 
management of the estates, 8,652/. 2^. 4<Z., being at the rate 
of nearly 17 J per cent, per annum upon the amount received 
by the treasurer or receiver-general. This sum evidently 
does not include the 10 per cent, on all collections made by 
the agents, and deducted by them in the first instance from 
the gross receipts, without passing through the treasurer's 
or receiver-general's hands. Besides this 8,652/. 2s. 4<^., 
a further sum of 4,732/. 95. is returned, as having been ex- 
pended upon ' repairs ' of roads, mills, &c., making rather 
more than 9J per cent, on the amount passed through the 
treasurer's hands. Assuming these figures to be correct, the 
entire sum expended in agent's allowance, expenses of manage- 
ment and repairs upon the properties for 31 years, amounted 
to more than 35 per cent, on the gross collections made in 
that period by the agents. 

Of the 36,199/. 25. lid. remaining after these deductions, 
the same account shows a sum of 13,169/. 75. Qd. (a little 
more than one-third) to have been for educational purposes. 
Of this sum, 780/. was a grant in favour of the M'Gill college, 
and all or nearly all the rest had been expended upon the 
royal grammar schools of Quebec, Montreal and Kingston 
(Upper Canada). The allowance to these schools commenced 
in 1817, and that to the Kingston school had been given up 
some years before 1831. 

Among the remaining items of disbursements appears 
a charge of 9,793/. 25. lid. for ' repairs of Protestant churches ', 
all or nearly all this sum having been expended upon the 
repair of the Protestant cathedral church in Quebec. Another 
charge upon the estates (sanctioned by a despatch of Sir 
Greorge Murray, dated June 2, 1828), is to the amount of 
984/. 35. 2d. for the salary of a clergyman of the Protestant 
Episcopal Church (Rev. Mr. Sewell), as chaplain of the church 
of the Holy Trinity in Quebec. 

On the subject of the balance in the receiver-general's 
hands at the time of the surrender of the estates, the account 
given in this table is not reconcilable, so far as I can see, 
with that given on the books of the receiver-general. The 
latter (as may be seen from the accompanying document 
marked (E.) state it to be 8,020/. 165. Zd. sterling, or 

were again deposited mth the receiver-general, and the office of treasurer of 
the estates was abolished. 



8,812^. 05. 3Jd currency. This sum, I presume, is the correct 

The provisions of the 2d Will. 4, cap. 41, were in several 
particulars disregarded or contravened. The monies received 
^rom the Jesuits' estates were never placed by the receiver- 
general in a separate chest, as required by the law, but have 
continued, as before, to be deposited with the other public 
revenue of the province, a separate account only being kept 
to show their amount. The clause prohibiting the expenditure 
of any part of the balance at any time accruing from the 
Jesuits' estates for any other than educational objects was 
also set aside by the transfer on the 22d of September 1832 
(by order of the governor, signified in a letter from Colonel 
Craig, then civil secretary, to the receiver-general), of 
7,154/. 155. 4J^. currency, from the amount credited to the 
Jesuits' estates, to the general revenues of the province. The 
circumstances under which this transfer was made, and the 
defence set up for it (a passage in Lord Goderich's despatch 
of 7th July 1831), will require fuller consideration in another 
part of this report. I shall there endeavour to show, that 
however undeserving of blame the order may have been, it 
was clearly a contravention of the law, and that the transfer 
in question ought accordingly to be reversed, and the 
7,154/. 155. 4:ld. currency again set down as belonging to the 
educational fund of the province. 

The appropriations made by the above Act of 1832 were, 
as has been stated, for one year only ; no subsequent enact- 
ment has been passed on the subject, so that the revenues 
of the estates have been accumulating in the hands of the 
receiver-general since October 1, 1832 ; the allowances to the 
two grammar schools ceased at that date. The expenses of 
the commissioners' office have continued to be paid to the 
same amount as before ; not, however, as before, by warrant 
drawn in due form upon the receiver-general, but by the 
commissioner himself, out of the monies received by him, 
before paying over the balance to the receiver-general. This 
course is defended by a reference to the terms of the com- 
mission by which that officer was appointed, and which 
empowers him to pay out of the receipts of the estates all 
necessary expenses of collection, &c. It received also at the 
time the sanction of the executive government, though there 
can be no doubt the majority of the House of Assem|)ly 
intended, as one consequence of the non-renewal of their 
appropriations from this fund, to have reduced the com- 
missioner of the estates to the position of the other public 


officers during the period of the stoppage of the supplies, and, 
if possible, to have obliged him to resign his office in con- 

During the stormy sessions of the provincial parliament 
which followed the year 1831, a standing committee of the 
House was constantly occupied with investigations relative 
to the Jesuits' estates. In the last session at which any public 
business was transacted (that of 1835-6), a Bill to regulate 
the future administration of the estates was introduced into 
the House of Assembly by Mr. Kimber, of Three Rivers, the 
chairman of this committee ; but though it passed the House 
it failed to become a law, the disputes between the two Houses 
having so entirely engrossed attention, after it was sent up 
to the legislative council, as to prevent that body from pro- 
ceeding with it to its passage, amendment or rejection. The 
session came to a close without any decisive action of the 
council in regard to it. The principal provisions of this Bill 
will require notice in another part of this report, when the 
particular subject to which it relates shall be under discussion. 
With the history of this property as an educational endow- 
ment they have no connexion. 







Copy of a DESPATCH from Lord Glenelg to the 
Earl of Durham, g.c.b. 

My Lord, Downing street, 20 January 1838. Lord 

Although it will be necessary to reserve, until the approach ^^®^^^*^ 
of the period of your proceeding to Canada, the full instruc- Durham^ 
tions which it will be my duty to address to your Lordship, 20 Janu- 
with respect to the important mission which you have under- ^^y l^^^- 
taken. Her Majesty's Government feel it incumbent on them 
to take the earliest opportunity of briefly explaining to you, 
in an official communication, the general line of policy which 
appears to them best calculated to affect a permanent settle- 
ment of the various questions which will demand your attention. 

I abstain here from adverting to the measures which may 
be requisite in order to suppress any remaining symptoms of 
resistance to Her Majesty's authority ; because, from the 
information which I at present possess, I am induced to hope 
that, before your arrival in Lower Canada, all open attempts 
to disturb the public peace, or to impede the due administra- 
tion of the law, will have been effectively put down ; and 
I trust that the large increase which will be made to the 
military force in the province on the opening of the navigation 
will render hopeless any further designs of an insurrectionary 

Tranquillity having been restored, it will be your duty to 
enter on the more arduous part of the task committed to you, 
and to consider what steps should be adopted in order to 
prepare the way for a return to a system of government 
founded on those principles of liberty which form the basis 
both of the British constitution and of that which was given 
to Canada by the Imperial Act of 1791. 

It is upon such a system alone that, in the opinion of 
Her Majesty's advisers, the colony can be permanently 
governed with advantage either to its inhabitants or to the 
mother country ; but, after the disturbances by which the 

1352-3 X 


Lord province has been convulsed, it can scarcely be expected that 

^^!^!!fi i^ it will at once be restored to such a state of calmness as to 

tneJiiarloi ., , ..tip 

Durham, allow a regular constitutional mode of government to come 

20 Janu- into beneficial operation immediately on the suppression of 
ary 1838. ^^le insurrection ; it is therefore proposed that for a limited 
time Parliament should authorize a different method of 
administering the affairs of the pro^dnce. This, however, is 
but a temporary expedient, intended only to meet the actual 
crisis, and to afford time for removing the obstacles which 
have of late years prevented the successful working of a more 
regular and liberal system of government. It will be your 
chief aim to prepare the way for the earliest practicable return 
to such a system, and for this purpose you will use every 
means in your power to undeceive those who have been 
betrayed into disaffection, and to reconcile the different 
classes of the population to each other and to the Govern- 
ment. Your personal influence, and your prompt and impar- 
tial attention to every real grievance and every well-founded 
complaint. Her Majesty is persuaded will have a powerful 
effect in contributing to this most desirable result. 

I need not here advert to the differences which have so long 
prevailed between the executive government and the legis- 
lature of the province. You are already acquainted with 
their history and character ; and you are also aware that, in 
the year 1835, Commissioners were sent out by the Govern- 
ment of his late Majesty for the purpose of ascertaining the 
causes which had led to these differences, and of inquiring 
what alterations it would be right to make in the laws and 
constitution of the colony with a vieAv to their adjustment. 
Early in the last year the final reports of the Commissioners 
were received, and measures founded upon the information 
which they afforded, and the suggestions they contain were 
in the course of being submitted to Parliament, when the 
execution of this design was unavoidably interrupted by the 
demise of his late Majesty. 

The events which have since taken place in Lower Canada, 
and the degree to which they have exasperated the contend- 
ing parties in that colony, have rendered it inexpedient, in 
the opinion of Her Majesty's Government, again to bring 
forward propositions which were calculated to meet a very 
different state of things from that which at present exists. 

More extensive changes in the Act of 1791 than were then 
in contemplation seem now to be required, since it is hardly 
to be hoped that when an actual conflict must have so greatly 
inflamed those mutual jealousies and animosities between 



ifferent classes of the population which before obstructed Lord 
the working of that Act, it could, without very material Glenelg to 
alterations, be brought again into beneficial operation. ^^^^^^^ 

The necessity w hich has thus arisen of looking to more 20 Janu- 
important amendments of the Act of 1791 than w^ere originally ary 1838. 
contemplated is a sufficient reason for not at once recom- 
mending these amendments to Parliament, with a view to 
their immediate adoption, since the authority of the Imperial 
Legislature could not with advantage be employed in carry- 
ing into effect changes of this description before the wishes 
and opinions of those whom they would more immediately 
affect could be ascertained, especially as the interests of 
Upper Canada must of necessity be influenced in a greater or 
less degree by whatever may be done with respect to the 
Lower province. 

In looking back to the history of the now long-continued 
dissensions of Lower Canada, it may be remarked that one 
prominent topic of complaint from the party opposed to the 
majority of the Assembly has been the anti-commercial spirit 
of legislation attributed to that body, and their alleged in- 
difference to measures calculated to promote the industry of 
the colony, and the development of its natural resources. 
This disposition of the representatives of the French popula- 
tion of Lower Canada has been also urged as a most serious 
grievance by the inhabitants of the Upper province, which 
by its situation is rendered in great measure dependent, in all 
that relates to its foreign trade, on the legislation of the 
former colony. To meet these complaints it has, as you are 
aware, been frequently proposed, that the two provinces 
should be united under a common legislature, and some years 
ago a Bill for effecting that object was actually introduced 
into Parliament, where, however, upon discussion, it was 
abandoned. So recently as the beginning of last year, both 
branches of the legislature of Upper Canada concurred in 
representing, by a joint address to the Crown, the grievance 
which they suffered in being denied a freer access to the ocean, 
and the House of Assembly in another address prayed that 
the evil might be remedied by the annexation of the island 
of Montreal to the Upper province. 

In order to lay the ground for the permanent settlement 
of the questions which agitate Lower Canada, and also of 
those which create divisions between Upper and Lower 
Canada, it will probably be found necessary to resort to some 
legislative measures of a comj)rehensive nature ; but before 
such measures can be framed and submitted to Parliament, it 



Lord would be highly desirable to ascertain the wishes and opinions 

f vl^F^^^i * f ^^ ^^^ people of both provinces regarding them. 

Durham, "^^^^ object could best be attained by a personal communica- 

20 Janu- tion on your part with such persons selected from each pro- 

ary 1838. yince as may be presumed, from their station, character and 

influence, to represent the feelings of their fellow-countrymen 

in general. It seems advisable, therefore, to authorize your 

Lordship, if you should so think fit, to call around you a certain 

number of such persons, with whom you might take counsel 

on the most important affairs of the two provinces, the time 

of meeting of such a committee of advice being left entirely 

to your discretion. 

You are therefore empowered to select three members from 
the legislative council of Upper Canada to attend such meet- 
ing, and to invite the House of Assembly of Upper Canada 
to nominate ten of its members for the same purpose. Under 
ordinary circumstances the same course would be pursued 
with respect to the legislature of Lower Canada. But if the 
Bill now before Parliament should be passed into a law, 
recourse must be had, during the suspension of that legis- 
lature, to another mode of supplying the deficiency. 

You will accordingly, during such suspension, select three 
members of the body at present composing the legislative 
council, and will take measures for calling on the electors in 
each of the five districts into which Lower Canada is now 
divided to elect two persons to sit in the committee. Your 
Lordship can obviate any difficulty which may stand in the 
way of holding such elections by an ordinance for this pur- 
pose to be passed by the authority of the Governor in council. 
The committee will thus consist of twenty-six members, 
over whose deliberations you will of course preside. 

The committee being thus formed, you will bring before 
them the subjects on which you desire to receive their opinion 
and advice. Among the most important of these are the 
questions in debate between the two Canadian provinces. 

In the last session, both Houses of Parliament passed 
a resolution, ' That great inconvenience has been sustained 
by His Majesty's subjects inhabiting the provinces of Lower 
Canada and Upper Canada, from the want of some adequate 
means for regulating and adjusting questions, respecting the 
trade and commerce of the said provinces, and divers other 
questions wherein the said provinces have a common interest, 
and it is expedient that the legislatures of the said provinces 
respectively be authorized to make provision for the joint 
regulation and adjustment of such their common interests.* 



It is clear that some plan must be devised to meet the just Lord 
demands of Upper Canada. Glenelg to 

It ^vill be for your Lordship, in conjunction with the com- Durham ^ 
mittee, to consider if this should not be done, by constituting 20 Janu* 
some joint legislative authority, which should preside over all ^^Y 1838. 
questions of common interest to the two provinces, and which 
might be appealed to in extraordinary cases to arbitrate 
between contending parties in either ; preserving, however, 
to each province its distinct legislature, with authority in all 
matters of exclusively domestic concern. 

If this should be your opinion, you will have further to 
consider what should be the nature and limits of such authority, 
and all the particulars which ought to be comprehended in 
any scheme for its establishment. 

The Constitutional Act of 1791 will supply another subject 
of deliberation, with a view to determine what measures may 
safely be taken to correct the defects which have hitherto 
interfered, at least in the Lower province, with its successful 

The constitution of the legislative council has formed the 
chief topic of complaint with the House of Assembly of Lower 
Canada, and they have insisted that the only remedy is to 
be found in making the council elective. 

On this subject the following resolution was last year passed 
by both Houses of Parliament : ' That, in the existing state 
of Lower Canada, it is unadvisable to make the legislative 
council of that province an elective body, but it is expedient 
that measures be adopted for securing to that branch of the 
legislature a greater degree of public confidence.' 

It will be for you and the committee to consider in what 
manner the judgment thus pronounced by Parliament can 
best be carried into effect. 

There are other very important subjects regarding which 
you will probably think it right to consult the same advisers ; 
such, for example, as the provision that should be made to 
meet the necessary expenses of the civil government in Lower 
Canada ; the state of the law affecting the tenure of landed 
property in that province ; the establishment of a court for 
the trial of appeals and impeachments. There is, in truth, 
not one of the many interesting questions relating to the good 
government and well-being of the two Canadas which might 
not very properly engage the attention of the committee. 

On all the subjects which I have specified, and on others 
which may come under the notice of the committee, your 
Lordship will probably have to recommend the adoption of 


Lord some legislative measures in this country : you will transmit 
Glenelg to to me an explanation of such measures in the fullest detail, 
Durham^ in order that the Government may consider of the propriety 
20 Janu- of submitting them to Parliament. 

ary 1838. You are authorized to fix the times and places of the meet- 
ings of the committee, to adjourn from time to time, and to 
frame all regulations necessary for the despatch of business. 
You are also empowered to dissolve the committee at your 

It is obvious that such a body could not be assembled with 
advantage during the prevalence of disturbance, or while 
the passions excited by recent conflict are still unallayed ; 
but should a calmer period succeed, the same tranquillity 
which would render the meeting of such a committee ex- 
pedient would make it practicable to provide for the election 
of representatives for the purpose of forming part of it. 

Your Lordship, however, will understand that although, 
with a view to ascertain the opinions of the people. Her 
Majesty's Government have thought it right to convey to you 
a distinct authority to convene such a committee as that which 
I have described, should your own deliberate judgment con- 
firm the view which they at present entertain of its probable 
expediency, they are fully aware that other modes may here- 
after suggest themselves to you by which the same end could 
be attained, and to which you may give a preference, as being 
more acceptable to the inhabitants of the respective provinces, 
or less liable to any objection which may arise to the plan 
proposed. In that case, it is not the wish or the intention of 
Her Majesty's Government to restrict the free exercise of your 
own judgment or discretion, bearing in mind that the great 
object which they have in view is to avoid giving any just 
ground for complaints, not unreasonably made on former 
occasions, against attempting legislative changes affecting 
Canada, without previously ascertaining the sentiments and 
wishes of those whom such changes principally concern. 
Neither, in the brief enumeration of the topics upon which it 
has been suggested that you should consult with such a com- 
mittee as has been proposed, is it the intention of Her Majesty's 
Government to exclude other subjects from your considera- 
tion, or to restrict you from entertaining other proposals, 
whether affecting the two Canadas only or all the British 
North American provinces, which you may be induced to 
think conducive to the permanent establishment of an im- 
proved system of government in Her Majesty's North American 


Your commission will be co-extensive with the whole of Lord 
these possessions, for the express pui'pose of enabling you ^i|®^®^*^ 
M-ith the greatest advantage to take the most comprehensive Durham^ 
view of their general interests, and to recommend such measures 20 Janu-' 
as, after personal communication with men of various classes, *^y 1838. 
and upon mature deliberation, you may consider best adapted 
to remove all reasonable ground of dissatisfaction in these 
colonies, and to cement the union subsisting between them 
and this country by the ties of mutual advantage, and a re- 
ciprocal feeling of confidence and good-will. 

I have, &c. 
(signed) Glenelg. 

Copy of a DESPATCH from Lord Glenelg to the 
Earl of Durham, g.c.b. 

My Lord, Downing-street, 3 April 1838. 

I HAVE the honour herewith to transmit to your Lordship Lord 
four commissions under the great seal, by which Her Majesty fij®^^^^, *^ 
has been pleased to appoint you to be the Governor and Durham*^ 
Captain-general of the provinces of Lower Canada and Upper 3 April 
Canada, of New Brunswick and of Prince Edward Island. ^^^^^ 
A similar commission, appointing your Lordship to the corre- 
sponding offices in Nova Scotia, has already been transmitted 
to the Lieutenant-governor of that province. I also transmit 
a separate commission, by which your Lordship is consti- 
tuted Governor-general of all Her Majesty's North American 
provinces, including the island of Newfoundland, and Her 
Majesty's High Commissioner for the investigation of certain 
questions depending in the Canadian provinces. 

Tn my despatch (No. 1) of the 20th of January last, I thought Instruc- 
it my duty to record the motives which had induced Her ^^^ ^^^ 
Majesty's Government to advise The Queen to invest your wick and* 
Lordship with unusual and extensive powers, and I then for Prince 
stated the general principles by which you are to be guided ^dward 
in the discharge of your high and arduous duties. My im- Those for 
mediate object is to explain what are the powers thus intrusted Upper and 
to your Lordship by your commissions, and by the instruc- 1^^^'^^ 
tions under the royal sign manual and signet which accom- g^nt in 
pany them. subse- 

The deviations from former precedents which will be found ^"^^^ 
in these commissions, though to a considerable extent sug- Na^20,^of 
gested by the existing crisis in the affairs of British North 21 April. 


Lord America, are not all referable to considerations of an occasional 
Glenelg to or transitory nature. The usual practice has hitherto been 
Durham^ to address to the Governor of Lower Canada a single com- 
3 April ' mission for the government of the two Canadian provinces ; 
1838. a second single commission for the government of Nova 
Scotia and Prince Edward Island, and a third and separate 
commission for the government of New Brunswick. With the 
title of Governor-general, he has, in fact, been Governor of 
the province of Lower Canada only, and has been prohibited 
from resorting to any of the other provinces, lest his presence 
should supersede the authority of the respective Lieutenant- 
governors to whose administration they have been confided. 
It is difficult to assign any other motive for this practice 
of issuing three commissions for the government of five distinct 
provinces to an ofiicer whose functions were to be confined 
exclusively to one of them, except that this arrangement may 
have diminished the expenses attendant upon the issuing of 
such instruments. This advantage, such as it was, has, how- 
ever, been far more than overbalanced by the inconvenience 
that two of the five provinces have been invariably left 
destitute of the original document upon which the powers of 
the local government may in a certain sense be said to have 
entirely depended. If any question arose at Toronto or in 
Prince Edward Island as to the terms of the royal commission, 
it could be answered only by a reference to Quebec or to 

But while the number of these instruments was thus reduced, 
they were filled with a multitude of superfluous words and 
redundant clauses, which appear to have been transcribed 
from ancient precedents, without any attention to subsequent 
changes of the law, or of the state and circumstances of the 

In the accompanying commissions these inconveniences are 
obviated. For each separate government there will hence- 
forth be a distinct commission, which will be found to contain 
no provisions but such as are necessary to impart and to 
define the powers which are to be exercised by the Governor, 
or, in his absence, by the ofiicer charged with the administra- 
tion of the government. 

On your Lordship's arrival at Quebec, you will open your 
commission as Governor of that province, and your com- 
mission as Governor-general and Lord High Commissioner. 
The first of these instruments will then be deposited amongst 
the archives of the province ; the second will remain in your 
Lordship's personal custody, and will accompany you to 


occasion to resort. Clenelg to 

The commissions for Upper Canada, for New Brunswick, i)l^rham*^^ 
and for Prince Edward Island, your Lordship will transmit to 3 April ' 
the respective Lieutenant-governors of those provinces, to be 1^38. 
deposited amongst the archives of their respective govern- 
ments. You will at the same time transmit to each the 
accompanying commissions under the royal sign manual and 
signet, renewing their several offices, which would otherwise be 
superseded by the revocation of Lord Gosford's commissions. 
As Lower Canada is that part of British North America in 
which the necessity for your Lordship's presence will be 
chiefly felt, your residence will be principally fixed in that 
province ; but it will probably be convenient, if not indis- 
pensable, that you should occasionally resort to all or to some 
of the adjacent provinces. As often as such an occasion shall 
arise, and your Lordship shall pass into Upper Canada, New 
Brunswick, Nova Scotia or Prince Edward Island, you will, 
by virtue of the commissions there awaiting your arrival, 
assume the administration of the government of the province 
in which you may be, and retain it during your residence in 
such province. During that period, the functions of the 
Lieutenant-governor will be altogether suspended. It is 
almost superfluous to suggest, that, with a view to the main- 
tenance of the deference due to the Lieutenant-governor, and 
to the unimpaired revival of his authority on the resumption 
of his functions, your Lordship will afford to the Lieutenant 
governor the utmost countenance in your power, and will 
mark, by every possible demonstration, that the temporary 
suspension of his command detracts nothing from his claims 
on the confidence of Her Majesty's Government, and the 
respect of the inhabitants at large. ' On his side, it will be the 
duty of the Lieutenant-governor to render to your Lordship 
the utmost possible assistance in the conduct of affairs with 
which he will be thoroughly conversant, and regarding many 
of which your Lordship will of course stand in need of 

Hitherto it has not been the practice to carry on official 
correspondence between the Governor-general and any of the 
Lieutenant-governors. The Governor-general and the Lieu- 
tenant-governors have severally conducted their respective 
administrations as separate and independent authorities, 
addressing all their communications on public affairs to the 
head of this department, and receiving from the Secretary of 
State alone instructions for their guidance. As, however, the 


Lord success of your T^ordship's mission may in no light degree 
S^E^H*f ^^P^^^ ^^ y<^^^ power of maintaining uniformity of principle 
Durham, ^^ ^^^ administration of the different North American govern- 
3 April ments, in regard to all the more considerable questions which 
1838. ^j.Q depending in them, it seems necessary to depart from the 
existing system so far as may be requisite for attaining that 
object, but no further. 

It will therefore be the duty of each Lieutenant-governor 
to enter into a free and confidential correspondence with your 
Lordship on every topic on which you may invite such com- 
munications, and to obey every instruction not in itself 
unlawful which you may address to him ; but it will be desir- 
able to limit such correspondence to questions of general and 
permanent interest. Nor will you address any positive instruc - 
tion to any of these officers without fuUy weighing every 
representation which he may have made, or may ^\ash to 
make, on the subject of it. 

The Lieutenant-governors -will continue their correspond- 
ence with me as usual ; and your Lordship will transmit to 
me a copy of the correspondence which may pass between 
yourself and any of the Lieutenant-governors. 

It will be readily understood that the preceding instructions 
have not been dictated by any distrust of the zeal or ability 
of any of the officers at present engaged in the administration 
of the North American provinces ; they have been suggested 
exclusively by the present position of affairs in Canada, and 
by a conviction of the importance of maintaining, on questions 
of general concern, that unity of purpose throughout the 
different governments which can be secured only by placing 
them all, for at least a short period, in some degree of sub- 
ordination to one authority common to the whole. 

I shall transmit a copy of this despatch to each of the 
Lieutenant-governors, for his information and guidance. 

I have, &c. 
(signed) Glenelg. 

Copy of a DESPATCH from Lord Olenelg to the 
Earl of Durham, g.c.b. 

My Lord, Downing-street, 21 April 1838. 

Glenelg to ^^ ^J despatch of 20th January, I briefly explained to your 
the Earl of Lordship, the general line of policy which appeared to Her 
Ihirham, Majesty's Government, best calculated to effect a permanent 
1838?^ settlement of the various questions which would demand your 



tention, as Governor-general of Her Majesty '8 provinces in Lord 
North America, and I reserved until the approach of the time Glenelg to 
for your proceeding to Lower Canada, the further instructions Sirham^^ 
which it would then be my duty to address to your Lordship 21 April' 
^^ regard to the same subject. 1838. 

I^B In my despatch (No. 8) of the 3d April, accompanying your 
^Lordship's commissions under the great seal, I have explained 
in what respect those instruments differ from the commissions 
issued to former governors of the same provinces, and what 
are the powers which, although not enjoyed by your pre- 
decessors in the government of Lower Canada, are vested in 
you for the purpose of a general superintendence over all 
British North America. 

I now propose to fulfil my intention of completing the series 
of the instructions under which you are to act. 

From the latest accounts it appears that, although revolt 
and insurrection have been suppressed within the Canadas, 
considerable excitement still exists on various parts of the 
frontier adjoining the United States, and that several attempts 
have recently been made by armed citizens of those states to 
invade the British territory ; these attempts have in every 
instance been successfully resisted, and the government of 
the United States has taken measures which I trust will prove 
sufficient to restrain such aggressions in future. It will be 
your Lordship's duty to adopt the most efficient precautions 
for the protection of the Canadian provinces from inroad or 
attack on the part of American citizens, and for the prompt 
repression of any such attempts should they hereafter be 
renewed. It is scarcely necessary that I should at the same 
time suggest the importance of abstaining from all language 
and conduct calculated to give just or reasonable offence to 
the government of the United States, the more especially as 
that government appears to have acted with perfect good 
faith during the late transactions. 

The late revolt in the Canadas, has been followed by the 
arrest and imprisonment of a very considerable number of 
persons both in the Lower and in the Upper Province. In 
regard to Upper Canada, I have not, even to this time, been 
informed of the course contemplated by the local authorities 
for bringing such prisoners to trial, except that I know gener- 
ally that a special commission has been appointed to investi- 
gate the charges preferred against them, and that the Habeas 
Corpus Act has been suspended. From Lower Canada I have 
later and more ample intelligence. 

Sir John Colborne having been authorized to carry into 


Lord execution Lord Gosford's proclamation of martial law, had, 
o!^E^H*f ^^ ^^^ capacity of Lieutenant-general commanding Her 
Durham, Majesty's forces in the provinces, discharged from custody 
21 April a large number of the prisoners against whom he thought 
1838. j^ unnecessary or injudicious to proceed ; and at the date of 
his last despatches he appears to have expected that it would 
be in his power to extend the same indulgence to several 
others ; but he regarded the trial and punishment of some of 
the more guilty parties as indisi)ensable, and applied to me 
for instructions as to the means of securing an impartial trial. 
On referring to this correspondence, your Lordship will 
learn the difficulties which appeared to impede the ordinary 
course of proceeding before the grand and petit juries of the 
country, and you will find that Her Majesty's Government 
resolved that, even if it might be right to resort ultimately 
to any form of trial unknoAvn to the constitution, it would 
at least be improper to do so without having ascertained by 
actual experiment that the usual forms are unequal to the 
occasion. If however that experiment, when fairly tried, in 
two or three cases, should prove that, under the peculiar 
circumstances of the colony, the investigation of truth and 
the equal administration of justice could not be effected by 
a recourse to the ordinary tribunals. Sir John Colborne was 
instructed to suspend all further proceedings against the 
persons charged with treason or traitorous conspiracy, until 
your Lordship's arrival. 

It is possible that under these instructions. Sir J. Colborne 
may have been enabled to clear the prisons ; but I apprehend 
it to be more likely that you will find the prisoners in question, 
or a certain number of them, reserved in custody for your 
decision ; it is at all events necessary to be prepared for this 

From the very commencement of the late disturbances it 
has been, as your Lordship is aware, the earnest desire of the 
Government that the utmost lenity, compatible with public 
safety, should be exercised towards the insurgents ; this is 
the principle inculcated in my various despatches to the 
authorities in Lower and Upper Canada, and it is a principle 
supported, in our opinion, by considerations, not only of 
humanity, which cannot in such cases be admitted as the 
exclusive test of right conduct, but also of true policy in 
reference to the future well-being of the Canadas. The course 
of events, and the circumstances in which we may venture to 
assume you will find the provinces, will supply, as it appears 
to usj new facilities as well as fresh inducements to the carrj^- 


ing of this principle into effect. You will, I am persuaded, Lord 
enter into the views of the Government on this subject ; and ^l^nelg to 
in order to enable you to act with prompitude in this respect, Burh^m^ 
you are relieved from the restriction by which your pre- 21 April* 
decessors were prevented, in the case of treason, from giving ^^^^• 
an absolute pardon, or granting more than a respite, till the 
royal pleasure should be known : in your commission that 
restriction is omitted. 

The power thus intrusted to you, of granting an amnesty 
or pardon, in all cases should, in the opinion of Her Majesty's 
Government, be exercised largely, but not entirely without 
exception. Independently of persons committed on a charge 
of murder, to whose cases I have referred in my despatch of 
the 19th March to Sir J. Colborne, as exceptions to the class 
of cases fit to be included in an amnesty, there must probably, 
among the prisoners, be some flagrant and prominent cases 
of delinquency, which it would not be just or advisable to 
comprehend in the general lenity. These cases it will be for 
you to select , in order that they may be brought to trial . In the 
constitution of the tribunals before which these prisoners are 
to be arraigned, and in the conduct of the trials. Her Majesty's 
Government are, after full deliberation, satisfied that there 
should be no further deviation from the established modes of 
legal procedure than was sanctioned in my despatch to Sir J. 
Colborne. You Avill therefore bring them to trial, in the usual 
manner, before the courts of justice as at present constituted 
for the trial of criminal offences in the province. By the 
verdicts of the ordinary juries, the fate of the prisoners must 
be decided, subject of course to any questions of law which, 
as in any other case, might be reserved for the decision of 
the court, and subject also to the exercise of the prerogative 
in the commutation, if you should consider it expedient, of 
the sentence, for a less amount of punishment. Except in 
case of murder, capital punishments should be avoided : 
transportation or banishment from the province, for a certain 
period, imprisonment and fine, will afford the means of com- 
mutation of any capital sentence, and I trust also of fully 
vindicating the authority of the law. Should the course of 
events, or your experience in the province, lead you to con- 
sider that, with regard to future cases of treason or insurrec- 
tion, an alteration is required in the law regulating the trial 
of such offences, it will be competent to your Lordship to 
propose such an alteration to the special council ; but Her 
Majesty's Government are of opinion that no law of this 
description ought to have a retrospective operation. 


Lord The most important object of your Lordship's mission is, 

Glenelg to however, the settlement of the affairs of Her Majesty's domi- 
Durham ^^i^ns in North America, on such a basis, as may afford the 
21 April reasonable prospect of an enduring tranquilUty under a form 
1838. of government, corresponding in its general principles with 
that of this kingdom, so far as such a correspondence is 
compatible with the essential differences which must subsist 
between the metropolitan state and its provincial dependen- . 
cies. On this subject I have little to add to the instructions 1 
contained in my despatch of the 20th January. 

It is quite unnecessary for me to enter into discussions in 
this place, on the various plans which have been suggested, 
both by public bodies and by individuals, with a view of 
forming a permanent adjustment, such as I have mentioned 
to be desirable. Indeed, by attempting to discuss them 
I should only embarrass you, and run th*^ risk of interfering 
with that complete discretion which it is intended that you 
should enjoy on every part of this wide subject. I can only 
recommend to your most serious consideration those plans 
and any others that may present themselves to your own 

You are quite aware of the great principles, on which alone 
a wise system of polity can be estabUshed, and you are no 
less aware how little of stability can be expected, even for the 
wisest system, unless it be adapted to the affections and 
circumstances of the people, whom it professes to benefit. 
I wish therefore especially to press it on your attention, that, 
in the preparation of any plan to be submitted to Parlia- 
ment, the first object should be to ensure every probability 
of its practical efficiency. I mean that the plan should, in its 
principle and details, be such as to warrant a well-founded 
expectation, not only that it shall please and gratify at the 
moment, but that it shall practically work well ; it is by the 
test of actual experiment that its merits or demerits will 
eventually be judged. 

In my accompanying despatch (No. 17,) I have conveyed 
to your Lordship, instructions sanctioned by the Lords Com- 
missioners of the Treasury, for your guidance respecting the 
financial affairs of Lower Canada, and the expenditure of the 
revenues of the province. The powers with which you are 
invested by the Act to make temporary provision for the 
government of Lower Canada are, I trust, so clearly defined 
in the Act itseK, as to supersede the necessity for any attempt 
on my part at explanation or comment in regard to them. 
On reference to the recent correspondence with Sir J. Colborne, 



you will perceive that a full discretion is reserved to you as Lord 
to the selection of individuals on your arrival, to constitute Glenelg to 
the special council. You will, I have no doubt, so exercise i)urham°^ 
this discretion as fully to justify the choice which you may 21 April' 
think proper to make. You will enter on the execution of IS'^S. 
your high duties in the full possession of the confidence of 
Her Majesty's Government, and in the discharge of it, you 
may be assured of their utmost support and assistance. 

I have, &c. 
(signed) GleneJg. 

Extract of a DESPATCH from the Earl of 
Durham, g.c.b., to Lord Glenelg. 

Castle of St. Lewis, Quebec, 9 August 1838. 
My Lord, 

The information which my residence here has enabled me Earl of 
to obtain as to the condition of the two Canadas is of such purham 
a nature as to make me doubt whether, if I had been fully oienelg, 
aware of the real state of affairs in this part of the Avorld, 9 August 
any considerations would have induced me to undertake so 1^^^* 
very difficult a task as is involved in my mission. I do not, 
however, wish it to be understood that I consider success 
impossible. On the contrary, I indulge in a hope that if the 
difficulties and dangers that are now so apparent to me are 
appreciated by Her Majesty's Government, so as to lead to 
their adoption of measures sufficiently comprehensive and 
decided to meet the emergency, the objects of my mission 
may be accomplished. 

My sole purpose, therefore, in adverting to circumstances 
which threaten a different result is to impress upon your 
Lordship my own conviction, which has been formed by 
personal experience, that even the best informed persons in 
England can hardly conceive the disorder or disorganization 
which, to the careful inquirer on the spot, is manifest in all 
things pertaining to Government in these colonies. 

Such words scarcely express the whole truth : not Govern- 
ment merely, but society itself seems to be almost dissolved ; 
the vessel of the State is not in great danger only, as I had been 
previously led to suppose, but looks like a complete wreck. 

It is needless to point out the wide difference between this 
representation and the opinions on the subject which were, 
and probably still are, held by Her Majesty's Ministers ; but 


Earl of since one who had the benefit of whatever information they 
?^T^*? possessed is nevertheless compelled to acknowledge that the 
Glenelg, truth, as it now appears to him, differs so much from his 
9 August previous conceptions of it, what can he infer but that distance 
1838. j^Q^g precluded them from acquiring an accurate knowledge 
of the whole subject ? This is my belief, and it becomes, 
therefore, an imperative duty on my part to convey to your 
Lordship the exact impressions which I have derived from * 
personal inquiry and observation. I will not shrink from the 1 
performance of that duty. 

On the present occasion, however, I propose to confine 
myself to a particular class of circumstances ; that is, to I 
those which relate to the Lower Province, and are of the I 
most unfavourable character ; my object in making such 1 
a selection being to state without reserve, in a separate 
despatch, certain facts and opinions, as to which, as coming 
from me, it is most inexpedient that any duplicity should be 
given for the present : this despatch will therefore be marked 
* Secret '. 

The first point to which I would draw your attention, being 
one with which all others are more or less connected, is the 
existence of a most bitter animosity between the Canadians 
and the British, not as two parties holding different opinions 
and seeking different objects in respect to Goverimaent, but 
as different races engaged in a national contest. 

This hatred of races is not publicly avowed on either side ; 
on the contrar^^ both sides profess to be moved by any other 
feelings than such as belong to difference of origin ; but the 
fact is, I think, proved by an accumulation of circumstantial 
evidence more conclusive than any direct testimony would 
be, and far more than sufficient to rebut all mere assertions 
to the contrary. If the difference between the two classes 
were one of party or principles only, we should find on each 
side a mixture of persons of both races, whereas the truth is 
that, with exceptions which tend to prove the rule, all the 
British are on one side, and all the Canadians are on the 
other. What may be the immediate subject of dispute seems 
to be of no consequence ; so surely as there is a dispute on 
any subject, the great bulk of the Canadian and the great 
bulk of the British appear ranged against each other. In the 
next place, the mutual dislike of the two classes extends 
beyond politics into social life, where, with some trifling 
exceptions again, all intercourse is confined to persons of the 
same origin. Grown-up persons of a different origin seldom 
or never meet in private society; and even the children, 



when they quarrel, divide themselves into French and English Earl of 
like their parents. In the schools and the streets of Montreal, I>«rliam 
the real capital of the province, this is commonly the case. Qlenelg, 
'"he station in life, moreover, of an individual of either race 9 August 
ms to have no influence on his real disposition towards the l^^^- 
ther race ; high and low, rich and poor, on both sides — 
the merchant and the porter, the seigneur and the habitant 
— ^though they use different language to express themselves, 
yet exhibit the very same feeling of national jealousy and 
hatred. Such a sentiment is naturally evinced rather by 
trifles than by acts of intrinsic importance. There has been 
no solemn or formal declaration of national hostility, but not 
a day nor scarcely an hour passes without some petty insult, 
some provoking language, or even some serious mutual affront, 
occurring between persons of British and French descent. 
Lastly, it appears, upon a careful review of the political 
struggle betw^een those who have termed themselves the loyal 
party and the popular party, that the subject of dissension 
has been, not the connexion with England, nor the form of 
the constitution, nor any of the practical abuses which have 
affected all classes of the people, but simply such institutions, 
laws, and customs as are of French origin, which the British 
have sought to overthrow and the Canadians have struggled 
to preserve, each class assuming false designations and fight- 
ing under false colours — ^the British professing exclusive 
loyalty to the Crown of England, and the Canadians pretending 
to the character of reformers. Nay, I am inclined to think 
that the true principles and ultimate objects of both parties, 
taken apart from the question of race, are exactly the reverse 
of what each of them professes, or, in other words, that the 
British (always excluding the body of officials) are really 
desirous of a more responsible Government, while the Canadians 
would prefer the present form of Government, or even one of 
a less democratic character. I shall have more to say on this 
head presently, having mentioned the subject here only for 
the purpose of citing another fact which tends to prove the 
existence of a deep-rooted national sentiment on both sides. 
Such a contradiction between the real and avowed principles 
of each party, could not have occurred if all the people had 
been of one race, or if every other consideration had not given 
way to the sentiment of nationality. 

This general antipathy of the Canadians towards the British, 
and of the British towards the Canadians, appears to have 
been, as it were, provided for at the conquest of the province, 
and by subsequent measures of the British Government. If 

1352-3 y 


Earl of 
to Lord 
9 August 

Lower Canada had been isolated from other colonies, and so 
well peopled as to leave little room for emigration from Britain, 
it might have been right at the conquest to engage for the 
preservation of French institutions, for the existence of 
a * Nation Canadienne ' ; but, considering how certain it was 
that, sooner or later, the British race would predominate in 
the country, that engagement seems to have been most 
unwase. It insured such a strife as has actually taken place ; 
for, notwithstanding the division of Canada into two pro- 
vinces, for the purpose of isolating the French, the British 
already predominate in French Canada, not numerically of 
course, but by means of their superior energy and wealth, and 
their natural relationship to the powers of Government. 

It was long before the Canadians perceived that their 
nationality was in the course of being over -ridden by a British 
nationality. When the Constitutional Act bestowed on them 
a representative system, they were so little conversant with 
its nature, and so blind to the probable results of British 
emigration, that they described the constitution as a ' machine 
anglaise pour nous taxer ', and elected to the House of 
Assembly almost a majoritj^ of Englishmen. But with the 
progress of British intrusion, they at length discovered, not 
only the uses of a representative system, but also that their 
nationality was in danger ; and I have no hesitation in assert- 
ing that of late years they have used the representative 
system for the single purpose of maintaining their nationality 
against the progressive intrusion of the British race. They 
have found the British pressing upon them at every turn, in 
the possession of land, in commerce, in the retail trade, in all 
kinds of industrious enterprize, in religion, in the whole 
administration of government, and though they are a stagnant 
people, easily satisfied and disinclined to exertion, they have 
naturally resisted an invasion which was so offensive to their 
national pride. 

The British, on the other hand, impeded in the pursuit of 
all their objects, parth^ by the ancient and barbarous civil 
law of the country, and partly by the systematic opposition 
of the Canadians to the progress of British enterprize, have 
naturally sought to remove those impediments, and to con- 
quer, without much regard to the means employed, that 
very mischievous opposition. The actual result should have 
seemed inevitable. The struggle between the two races, con- 
ducted as long as possible according to the forms of the 
constitution, became too violent to be kept within those bounds. 
In order to preserve some sort of government, the public 


revenue was disposed of against the will of the Canadian ^^^^ ^^ 
people represented by their Assembly. The consequent J^Lord^ 
rebellion, although precipitated by the British from an in- Glenelg, 
stinctive sense of the danger of allowing the Canadians full ^ August 
time for preparation, could not, perhaps, have been avoided ; ^^^^* 
and the sentiment of national hostilitj^ has been aggravated 
to the uttermost, on both sides, by that excessive inflamma- 
tion of the passions which always attends upon bloodshed for 
such a cause, and still more by this unusual circumstance, 
that the victorious minority suffered extreme fear at the 
beginning of the contest, and that the now subdued majority 
had been led to hope everything from an appeal to force. 

There seems to me only one modification of this view of the 
subject. The employment by the Canadians of constitutional 
and popular means for their national purpose, has taught 
some of them, consisting chiefly of the most active and able, 
higher political views than such as belong to the question of 
nationality. These men are not at heart friendly to the 
barbarous institutions of their ancestors, but would readily 
adopt a more enlightened system, if they could do so without 
losing their own importance. Their necessary dependence on 
the prejudiced mass has alone restrained them from joining 
in many of the views for the improvement of the country 
which are entertained by the British. They have also learned 
to estimate the practical abuses of Government which affect 
all classes, and to wish for many reforms without reference 
to Canadian nationality. They even had, to some extent, 
succeeded in disseminating their opinions amongst the mass 
of their countrymen, and they are not unlikely to play a valu- 
able and distinguished part under any new system of govern- 
ment that may put an end to the strife between hostile races ; 
but, unfortunately, their number is so small as scarcely to 
affect my opinion of the temper of the Canadian people. 

Supposing my view of that subject to be correct, your Lord- 
ship will readily understand that the bulk of the Canadian 
people are as disaffected as ever, and that the British part of 
the population regard the Canadians with vindictive jealousy. 
The Imperial Government is distrusted by both parties ; by 
the Canadians because they fear, or rather expect in gloomy 
silence, that advantage Avill be taken of their late rebellion 
to remove the very causes of dissension, by giving a British 
character to the institutions and laws of the province, so that 
there shall no longer be any serious impediment to British 
colonization and enterprize ; and by the British, on the other 
hand, because they doubt whether the Imperial Government 



Earl of will ever sufficiently understand the state of parties here, to 
Durham approve of the great changes which must inevitably take place, 
to Lord jf another period of legislative strife, and perhaps another 
9 August rebellion, are to be averted. 

1838. And here I must notice a fact of great importance. The 

more discerning of the Canadians are perfectly aware that if 
the authority of the United States should ever extend to this 
country, whether by means of war or of a peaceful union, 
the peculiar institutions, and even the language, of French 
Canada would be extinguished as soon as possible, yet are 
they willing, with the exception perhaps of a considerable 
portion of the clergy, to incur the loss of all that they have 
held most dear, in order to gratify the sentiment of vengeance 
that has now got possession of them. I would not exaggerate 
the amount of the sacrifice that they are willing to make for 
the sake of revenge. It is right to add, therefore, that, in my 
opinion, they almost despair, come what may, of preserving 
those ancient usages and that distinct nationality, in defence 
of which they have struggled so many years. 

But be this as it may, whether they are moved by a senti- 
ment of mere vengeance, or by revenge mixed with despair, 
I am well convinced that an American invasion of this 
province would be highly acceptable to most of them. 

Satisfied of the disaffected temper of the Canadians as 
a people, I have naturally taken pains to acquire correct 
information as to the state of feeling in the United States 
as respects these colonies and the mother country. 

All reports concur in assuring me that the present govern- 
ment of the Union, and a vast majority of the American 
people, are decidedly adverse to a rupture with England. 
Having already conveyed this assurance to your Lordship, 
I need not dwell upon it here ; but there are points in the 
state of American feeling towards these colonies, and especially 
near the frontier, of so much moment as to require particular 

In the first place, although some persons in the States, and 
the more so if they have visited this country, are aware of 
the true nature of the late rebellion, it is a common opinion 
in America that the contention in this province has been 
between the executive government on the one hand, sup- 
ported by a minority, and the majority of the people, without 
distinction of race, on the other ; and that the subject of 
disagreement has been, practical grievances and general 
principles similar to those which formed the matter of dispute 
between England and her old colonies in America. 



As their fathers rebelled in defence of those old English Earl of 
charters of local self-government, which placed local taxation J^I^am 
and revenue at the sole disposition of popular assemblies, so Glenelg, 
they think that the Canadian majority was justified in with- 9 August 
holding supplies, and in resisting by force the violation of their ^^^^• 
constitution by the British Parliament. 

They believe, in a word, that the majority in Lower Canada 
has contended for the maintenance of popular rights, and that 
arbitrary government is the aim of the minority. The mistake 
is easily accounted for : it is only on the spot that one learns 
how the subject of strife in Lower Canada has been a question 
of nationality ; everywhere else, the false professions and 
designations employed by both parties, combined with the 
plain fact that the contest has been between a majority and 
a minority, is apt to mislead the inquirer, by keeping out of 
view the distinction of races. If the whole subject were 
understood by Americans, they would probably sympathize 
with those who are of the same origin as themselves, who 
resemble them in numerous particulars, and who seek objects 
which, if this country were under American rule, would be 
unhesitatingly accompUshed, as similar objects have been 
attained in the Dutch colony of New York, and the French 
colony of Louisiana. 

There is no people under the sun to whom the feudal in- 
stitutions and most defective civil laws of the Canadians would 
be more intolerable, than to the Anglo-Saxon race of the 
United States. But they have misunderstood the case. They 
have fallen into the not uncommon mistake of confounding 
means mth ends. Believing that the means employed by the 
Canadians, in the Assembly, were constitutional and popular, 
and seeing that the British, being in a minority, necessarily 
clung to the local executive and the imperial authority ; above 
all, regardless of the accident (for so it may be termed with 
respect to the question of nationality), by which the Canadians 
happen to constitute a majority, Americans have supposed 
that the objects of both parties in the colony were of the same 
nature respectively, as to the means on which each party has 
relied. An ever active sentiment of national pride is, perhaps, 
the most remarkable feature in the American character. It 
might have been foreseen, therefore, that the Americans, 
proudly recollecting the origin and progress of their own 
revolutionary war with England, should sympathize with the 
Canadians, or rather with the majority, who happen to be 
Canadians. Whether they may ever comprehend the false 
position assumed by both parties in this colony, I will not 


Earl of 
to Lord 
9 August 

venture to predict ; but so long as their view of the subject 
shall remain unchanged, they will, I believe, continue to 
sympathize with that side which has the air of contending 
for democratic principles and popular objects, and to wish 
that it may prevail over the other, which appears in the light 
of an oppressive minority. 

Secondly : Having regard to the national pride of America, 
it is certain that the temper and tone of the British party 
towards that country, tends to stir up angry passions through- 
out the Union, and especially near the frontier, where articles 
from the colonial newspapers are generally reprinted. Hitherto 
the national pride of America has not been deeply wounded 
by these means (and I do all in my power to mitigate the 
national influence of such affronts to it) ; but I am credibly 
informed that these unceasing attacks have not been without 
effect, and that they form a subject of growing irritation. 

Thirdly : By the existence of a state of things out of which 
it is easy to see that war might spring, the American mind 
becomes more and more familiar wdth the idea of war. Differ- 
ing as the Americans do, from all other nations, in the universal 
diffusion of an active interest in public affairs, and in a habit 
which belongs to aU ranks, of calculation as to the future, 
they are led, by the political state of these provuices, to 
discuss the subject of war hypothetically, if I may use the 
expression ; they are reminded of the events of the last war, 
and one of them in particular, the capture of Washington, 
which infhcted a deep wound on the national pride, and by 
frequently' conversing on such exciting topics, they gradually 
approach that state of feeling under which the government, 
necessarily impelled by the people, would find it hard to 
maintain friendly relations with England. 

Fourthly : It is not to be denied that the distracted state 
of these colonies occasions no little inconvenience to the frontier 
states, and to the federal government ; it caUs for an increase 
of the army, a sort of military array on the frontier, and the 
exercise of new powers by the executive, which are opposed 
to the habits, if not the institutions, of the American people. 
All the expense and annoyance are attributed to the British 
Government. A dispassionate American admits that his 
government is bound, at whatever cost, to prevent aggressions 
on the Canadian frontier, and he does not deny that the 
obligation has been inadequately fulfilled ; but when reminded 
of the inefficiency of the laws for that purpose, and the weak- 
ness of the American executive, he answers that the true 
source of every difficulty is the weakness of the British Govern- 



ment in Canada, which has not maintained order amongst its Earl of 
own subjects, nor is able to protect the United States from Durham 
such a nuisance as arises from the conduct of British refugees p^, ^°f*^ 
within their territory. This retort, without stopping to 9 August 
examine its justice, suffices to show that, until order shall be 1838. 
restored in these colonies, a great cause of irritation in America 
will probably continue to operate with increasing force. 

Fifthly : The boundary question, being much mixed, as it 
unavoidably is in America, with considerations arising out 
of the state of these colonies, forms a more active element of 
hostile feeling than would otherwise have been the case. 

Lastly : It is certain that, amongst the frontier population 
of the United States, which, I should observe, has very greatly 
increased since the last war, there exists a numerous body of 
men, young, active, energetic, and self-relying, who, from 
various motives, long for an opportunity of invading Canada. 
Some of them are moved by an opinion, which it would not 
be easy to question, that if these colonies were laid open to 
American enterprize, a great impulse would be given to the 
industry and trade of that part of the States which now con- 
stitutes the frontier ; some are influenced by one or other of 
the circumstances to which I have already adverted ; some by 
that love of adventm^e merely which belongs to the American 
character ; and some by a reasonable calculation of the gain 
and distinction which, in troubled times, usually fall to the 
most active and daring. The manner in which these people 
talk of invading the Canadas exemplifies the self-reliance of 
American citizens. They do not expect that the federal 
government should open the way for them by military opera- 
tions ; they even avow their belief that, in a contest of troops 
only, the British would surely prevail ; but they reckon upon 
the friendly disposition towards them of great numbers on 
this side, and upon swarming over the line in such numbers, 
and at so many places simultaneously, as to get possession 
of the country in spite of military obstacles. I do not pretend 
to weigh such calculations, but state them as they have been 
reported to me. If I am not misinformed, it is well that 
I should remind Her Majesty's Government of the invasion 
of Texas by a body of American citizens, who, wdthout the 
least aid from their government, have seized an extensive 
country, defeated armies, got possession of the soil, and 
established themselves as a nation, with constitutional govern- 
ment, a judicial system and municipal institution, as com- 
plete as any in America. There is certainly no immediate 
danger of such an attack upon these colonies ; and I have 


Earl of 
to Lord 
9 August 

mentioned the subject only for the purpose of indicating the 
probable character of the contest that would take place here, 
if all the causes now in operation should finally produce one. 
It was in consequence of all these important considerations 
that, during my late residence on the American frontier, 
I courted the most unreserved communication with all 
respectable Americans, for the purpose of impressing them 
with a more sound and accurate conception of the real state 
of things ; with a more just appreciation of our system of 
government, and its real objects ; and with a due sense of the 
danger which would arise to themselves, if their government 
remained a passive spectator of all these proceedings, tending, 
as they did, to destroy all confidence in its executive strength, 
and all reliance on the national honour. 

I am happy to say that my efforts have been successful, 
that a great change has taken place in public feeling on the 
American side, and that my exertions to restore tranquillity 
and good order are encouraged and supported by the most 
influential portions of the press and of society in the United 

Except as it has been noticed for the purpose of explaining 
the temper of the Canadians, and one of the causes of irrita- 
tion in the United States, a most important subject yet calls 
for your Lordship's attention ; I allude to certain feelings 
and views of the British section of Her Majesty's subjects in 
this province. 

Your Lordship is already informed of the general satis- 
faction expressed by the British party at my having, when 
I assumed the Government, avoided connecting myself mth 
the old body of officials. It may be supposed that the body 
in question did not participate in that sentiment. I very 
soon became aware therefore of the existence of some differ- 
ence between the official body and the British in general. 
Subsequent observation has convinced me that, except in 
their common hostility to the Canadians, there is no sym- 
pathy between these two classes. 

That this should be the case is really not surprising when 
one discovers how all the powers of Government have been 
neglected and abused for many jears past in this colony. Not 
to go further back than the commencement of serious differ- 
ences between the Canadians and British as such ; since, when 
the two branches of the legislature have neglected their proper 
functions to pursue the contest between races, a long time 
has passed without anything like beneficial legislation, and 
not a few of the many evils resulting from this perversion of 


Bgislative powers have, by a very natural mistake, been attri- Earl of 
>uted to neglect and corruption in the Executive. At the same ?"t^*T 
ime it must be confessed, that the Executive has been both oienelg, 
neglectful and corrupt. I need not remind your Lordship of 9 August 
those flagrant instances in which the Imperial Government ^^^^• 
has been led to interfere for the correction of administrative 
abuses, nor is this a fit occasion for entering on that subject 
in detail ; but I am bound to add, that the Government of 
this province, including the administration of justice, has not 
obtained the respect of the people, and that, according to all 
my information, there has been ample ground for the distrust 
and suspicion with which authority is regarded. 

This leads to another feature in the disposition of that 
portion of the British inhabitants which may be termed 
' independent '. Their main object, as I have before ex- 
plained, has been to remove the obstacles which the ignorance, 
the apathy, and the ancient prejudices of the Canadians 
opposed to the progress of British industry and enterprize ; 
to substitute, in short, for Canadian institutions, laws and 
practices, others of a British character. In this pursuit they 
have necessarily disregarded the implied, not to say precise, 
engagement of England to respect the peculiar institutions 
of French Canada. But the Imperial Government, on the 
contrary, never quite forgetting that ancient pledge, has 
rather extended its protection to the Canadians than espoused 
the cause of the British settlers. It were to be wished, perhaps, 
that this policy had been consistently pursued from the 
beginning, as in that case a British community might not 
have grown up here with feelings, wants, and a degree of 
power which make it simply impossible to pursue such a policy 
now. But it has not been consistently pursued. By a variety 
of measures, and especially by promoting emigration to this 
colony, the Imperial Government have really undermined 
the Canadian nationality which they perhaps intended to 
preserve. A similar contradiction may be observed in their 
treatment of the national struggle which has ended in civil 
war. Never taking a decided part with either section in the 
colony, they have wavered between them, now favouring 
the one and then the other, but neither decidedly, and finally 
displeasing both sections in about the same degree. Under 
such a system, if it may be called one, no governor could have 
pursued a consistent course, or have attached either the 
Canadians or the British to the Imperial Government. 

I should not permit myself to say this reproachfully, even 
if there were room for an accusation, which in my humble 



Earl of opinion there is not ; but I mention it as a necessary result 

toLord^ of the original false step, and for the purpose of explaining 

Glenelg, the present disposition of the British party. Deeply offended 

9 August at every measure or decision of the Imperial Government 

which thwarted their own British or Anti -Canadian views, 

they are also wanting in that respect for the supreme authority 

which is sometimes felt by the discontented subjects of a 

decided and vigorous Government. Restrained (though not 

entirely) from the public expression of their sentiments by 

a hope that the Imperial Government may yet accomplish 

the object on which their heart is set, they have no such reserve 

amongst themselves, nor do they at all care who knows of 

the language commonly held by them when speaking of the 

Imperial Government, and the connexion between this colony 

and the mother country. 

I am assiu-ed that the leaders and their followers, one and 
all, are in the habit of declaring, that rather than be again 
subject to the French (meaning, rather than see another j 
majority of Canadians in the Assembly), they shall find a way m 
to take care of themselves. 

I should be sorry to report any idle conversation upon such 
a topic, but have no doubt that language of this kind is 
commonly uttered with an earnestness of manner which should 
prove its sincerit3^ And this is not all : for the sentiments 
expressed are enforced by deliberate arguments, such as that, 
considering the exasperation of the Canadians produced by 
late events, there can be no permanent safety for people of 
British descent, except by rendering the colony thoroughly 
British ; and that if the Imperial Government should not 
pro\ide for the security of its British subjects, the time ^vi\\ 
soon be past for obedience to any other law than that of 

That such views are currently expressed amongst the British 
party, there can be no doubt ; and I am the more disposed to 
believe them sincerely entertained, because, having reference 
to a future contingency, they are not inconsistent mth those 
loud professions of loyalty and attachment to England by 
which the British minority has hitherto sought to enlist the 
Imperial Government against the Canadian majority. At 
present, of course, such views are merel}' speculative, every- 
thing being held in suspense by the large powers awarded to 
me, and by the hope of a happy settlement of affairs upon my 
recommendation . 

Notwithstanding, however, the very unfavourable repre- 
sentations contained in this despatch, I am induced to hope 



th confidence, that success may ultimately attend the Earl of 
measures ^vith respect to this country which have been recently P"';^"^ 
adopted by the Imperial Government. My principal reason Glenelg, 
for this assurance is drawn from the good effect already pro- 9 August 
duced by decided and vigorous action. The exercise of the ^^^^' 
very extensive powers placed in my hands seems to have 
operated as a sort of charm, like oil poured upon troubled 
waters. At this moment all is still. A stranger would hardly 
believe that the country had been recently distracted by civil 
uar. Expectation for the future is, I trust, taking the place 
of angry passions occasioned by the past. I must, however, 
conclude by assuring your Lordship, that whatever hopes 
I entertain of the future, depend altogether on the supposition 
that Her Majesty's Government and Parliament will not 
shrink from the adoption of permanent measures of remedy 
and prevention, proportioned to the greatness of the difficulties 
mth which I have yet to contend, and will sanction such 
measures as will effectually provide for the abstraction of all 
legislation on British interests from the control of a French 
majority. I am of opinion that this great object can be 
legitimately effected without violence to Canadian rights, and 
in strict accordance with the soundest principles of constitu- 
tional government. 

The time is fast approaching when I shall be enabled to 
bring these measures under the consideration of Her Majesty's 
Government ; and in the meantime I recommend to their 
serious attention the important points to which I have referred 
in the present communication. 



Sm, Downing Street, 14th Oct. 1839. j 

Lord John It appears from Sir Greorge Arthur's despatches that you 

J^^^J®.^^,*° may encounter much difficulty in subduing the excitement 

Hon. (f. which prevails on the question of what is called ' Responsible 

Poulett Government '. I have to instruct you, however, to refuse any 

o^f^^°° explanation which may be construed to imply an acquiescence 

14 1839. ^^ ^^^ petitions and addresses upon this subject. I cannot 

better commence this despatch than by a reference to the 

resolutions of both houses of Parliament, of the 28th April 

and 9th May, in the year 1837. 

The Assembly of Lower Canada having repeatedly pressed 
this point, Her Majesty's confidential advisers at that period 
thought it necessary not only to explain their views in the 
communications of the Secretary of State, but expressly called 
for the opinion of Parhament on the subject. The Crown 
and the tAvo houses of Lords and Commons having thus 
decisively pronounced a judgment upon the question, you 
win consider yourself precluded from entertaining any pro- 
position on the subject. 

It does not appear, indeed, that any very definite meanmg 
is generally agreed upon by those who call themselves the 
advocates of this principle ; but its very vagueness is a source 
of delusion, and if at all encouraged, would prove the cause of 
embarrassment and danger. 

The constitution of England, after long struggles and 
alternate success, has settled into a form of government in 
which the prerogative of the Crown is undisputed, but is 
never exercised without advice. Hence the exercise only 
is questioned, and however the use of the authority may be 
condemned, the authority itself remains untouched. 

This is the practical solution of a great problem, the result 
of a contest which from 1640 to 1690 shook the monarchy- 
and disturbed the peace of the country. 



But if we seek to apply such a practice to a colony, we shall Lord John 
at once find ourselves at fault. The power for which a minister ^"^p.^,*° 
is responsible in England, is not his own power, but the power jj^n. c 
of the Crown, of which he is for the time the organ. It is Poulett 
obvious that the executive councillor of a colony is in a situa- Thomson, 
tion totally different. The Governor, under whom he serves, 14 1339^ 
receives his orders from the Crown of England. But can the 
colonial council be the advisers of the Crown of England ? 
Evidently not, for the Crown has other advisers, for the same 
functions, and with superior authority. 

It may happen, therefore, that the Governor receives at 
one and the same time instructions from the Queen, and 
advice from his executive council, totally at variance with 
each other. If he is to obey his instructions from England, 
the parallel of constitutional responsibility entirely fails ; if, 
on the other hand, he is to follow the advice of his council, 
he is no longer a subordinate officer, but an independent 

There are some cases in which the force of these objections 
is so manifest, that those who at first made no distinction 
between the constitution of the United Kingdom, and that of 
the colonies, admit their strength. I allude to the questions 
of foreign war, and international relations, whether of trade 
or diplomacy. It is now said that internal government is 
alone intended. 

But there are some cases of internal government, in which 
the honour of the Crown or the faith of Parliament, or the 
safety of the state, are so seriously involved, that it would 
not be possible for Her Majesty to delegate her authoritj^ to 
a ministry in a colony. 

I will put for illustration some of the cases which have 
occurred in that very province where the petition for a re- 
sponsible executive first arose — I mean Lower Canada. 

During the time when a large majority of the Assembly of 
Lower Canada followed M. Papineau as their leader, it was 
obviously the aim of that gentleman to discourage all who did 
their duty to the Crown within the province, and to deter aU 
who should resort to Canada with British habits and feelings 
from without. I need not say that it would have been impos- 
sible for any minister to support, in the Parliament of the 
United Kingdom, the measures which a ministry, headed 
by M. Papineau, would have imposed upon the Governor of 
Lower Canada ; — British officers punished for doing their 
duty ; British emigrants defrauded of their property ; British 
merchants discouraged in their lawful pursuits, — would have 



LordJohn loudly appealed to Parliament against the Canadian ministry, 
th ^Ri ht* and would have demanded protection. 

Hon. C. Let us suppose the Assembly as then constituted, to have 

Poulett been sitting when Sir John Colborne suspended two of the 

OctobeT'^ judges. Would any councillor, possessing the confidence of 

14, 1839. the Assembly, have made himself responsible for such an 

act ? And yet the very safety of the province depended on 

its adoption. Nay, the very orders of which your Excellenc}^ 

is yourseK the bearer, respecting Messrs. Bedard and Panet, 

would never be adopted, or put in execution by a ministry 

depending for existence on a majority led by M. Papineau. 

Nor can any one take upon himself to say that such cases 
will not again occur. The principle once sanctioned, no one 
can say how soon its application might be dangerous, or even 
dishonourable, while all will agree that to recall the power 
thus conceded would be impossible. 

While I thus see insuperable objections to the adoption of 
the principle as it has been stated, I see little or none to the 
practical views of colonial government recommended by Lord 
Durham, as I understand them. The Queen's Government 
have no desire to thwart the representative assemblies of 
British North America in their measures of reform and improve- 
ment. They have no ^Wsh to make those provinces the resource 
for patronage at home. They are earnestly intent on giving 
to the talent and character of leading persons in the colonies, 
advantages similar to those which talent and character, 
employed in the public service, obtain, in the United Kingdom. 
Her Majesty has no desire to maintain any system of policy 
among her North American subjects which opinion condemns. 
In receiving the Queen's commands, therefore, to protest 
against any declaration at variance with the honour of the 
Crown, and the unity of the empire, I am at the same time 
instructed to announce Her Majesty's gracious intention to 
look to the affectionate attachment of her people in North 
America, as the best security for permanent dominion. 

It is necessary for this purpose that no official misconduct 
should be screened by Her Majesty's representative in the 
provinces ; and that no private interests should be allowed 
to compete vnih the general good. 

Your Excellency is fully in possession of the principles 
which have guided Her Majesty's advisers on this subject ; 
and you must be aware that there is no surer way of earning 
the approbation of The Queen, than by maintaining the 
harmony of the executive with the legislative authorities. 
While I have thus cautioned you against any declaration 



m which dangerous consequences might hereafter flow, Lord John 
and instructed you as to the general line of your conduct, it 5j"^d?^u? 
may be said that I have not drawn any specific line beyond Hon. C. 
which the power of the Governor on the one hand, and the Poulett 
privileges of the Assembly on the other, ought not to extend. V^?^^^' 
But this must be the case in any mixed government. Every 14^ 1839, 
political constitution in which different bodies share the 
supreme power, is only enabled to exist by the forbearance 
of those among whom this power is distributed. In this 
respect the example of England may well be imitated. The 
sovereign using the prerogative of the Crown to the utmost 
extent, and the House of Commons exerting its power of the 
purse, to carry all its resolutions into immediate effect, would 
produce confusion in the country in less than a twelvemonth. 
So in a colony : the Governor thwarting every legitimate 
proposition of the Assembly ; and the Assembly continually 
recurring to its power of refusing supplies, can but disturb all 
political relations, embarrass trade, and retard the prosperity 
of the people. Each must exercise a mse moderation. The 
Governor must only oppose the wishes of the Assembly where 
the honour of the Crown, or the interests of the empire are 
deepl}'' concerned ; and the Assembly must be ready to modify 
some of its measures for the sake of harmony, and from 
a reverent attachment to the authority of Great Britain. 

T Vi Q V" A AT O 

(Signed) J. RUSSELL. 

The Right Hon. C. Poulett Thomson, 
&c. &c. &c. 


CANADA IN 1838. 

Written by Mr. Charles Buller, in 1840.* 

A C0M*PLETE history of Lord Durham's mission to Canada 
would be a work requiring much research respecting a long 
chain of preceding and a great variety of contemporaneous 
events. Nor is the time yet come for giving such a history 
with the minuteness and accuracy which I should desire. 
Time must yet elapse before we shall be able sufficiently to 
develop much of the secret motives and acts of the parties 
concerned. Nor are the general bearings and results of what 
then occurred become yet sufficiently apparent for the world 
in general to appreciate in their full extent the magnitude and 
usefulness of the measures then adopted. It is still matter of 
interest, of pique, or of a false point of honour with great 
parties and powerful individuals to refuse to the memory of 
Lord Durham that justice which could not be granted without 
condemning their conduct, or stripping them of the credit 
which they wish most unjustly to arrogate to themselves. We, 
whose first purpose must be to secure him justice, have how- 
ever but to wait till time shall attain for us the object which 
we have at heart. True and lasting fame must almost always 
be earned as much by patience as by merit. And sure may 
we be that if our estimate of Lord Durham's policy and acts 
during this mission be correct, the results will unfold them- 
selves in such a manner as to force even the most inattentive 
or prejudiced to view them aright. The interests, and the 
passions too, that have hitherto thwarted our endeavours to 
obtain justice mil in the same manner be dispelled by mere 
lapse of time ; and it will probably not be long ere some of 
the very parties and individuals that have hitherto fancied 
it their interest to decry Lord Durham will find policj^ as well 
as justice inducing them to vindicate for him the honour 
which others seem inclined to usurp. My purpose in -writing 
this sketch of the mission to Canada is to give a succinct view 
of the state of affairs with which Lord Durham had to deal ; 
of the incidents which occurred during his government ; of 

* From original manuscript. Presented to A. G. Doughty, C.M.G., 
Dominion Archivist, by the Earl of Durham, July 1910. 



the steps that he took in order to overcome the immediate 
difficulties which he had to encounter ; and of the plans, by 
which he purposed to put the government of the North 
American colonies on a footing of permanent tranquillity, 
freedom, and progress. 

My personal acquaintance with Lord Durham only com- 
menced in the summer of 1837, on his return from Russia ; 
and I had seen very little of him at the time when the Bill for 
the temporary government of Canada was brought into Parlia- 
ment. Absolute as the necessity of some such measure was, 
it would have been very difficult to get the assent of all parties 
to the establishment of such a power in the hands of any 
other individual than Lord Durham. So high did he stand 
in the estimation of all parties that the Tories were obliged 
to be as unanimous in their acquiescence as the Liberals of 
every shade were in their loud approval. His memorable 
speech in the House of Lords on the night that the measure 
was first announced in it, increased the feeling of confidence 
in him. Such an occasion admitted indeed of no display of 
reasoning or information ; but Lord Durham's short speech 
showed that he was actuated by a firm determination and 
a spirit of most impartial justice ; it marked a deep sense of 
the heavy responsibility which he had taken on himself ; and 
it breathed a chivalrous reliance on the cordial support of 
friends, and the generous forbearance of opponents, that made 
both of them affect a show of such feelings, and led the public 
to believe that they entertained them. This was most un- 
fortunate for Lord Durham, for it led him to expect cordial 
support and generous forbearance where prudence would have 
induced to count on one as little as the other, and thus have 
spared him the pain of the double disappointment which he 
afterwards experienced. 

It was a day or two after this speech that Lord Durham, 
while sitting under the gallery of the House of Commons, 
desired me to call on him the next morning. Anticipating the 
purpose for which he desired to see me, and having had 
a good deal of discussion on the subject with my own family, 
I went to the interview having made up my mind not to accept 
of any offer of going out to Canada. Lord Durham made me 
the proposal in very flattering terms, and with much kindness. 
I was not very easily induced to change my resolution, but 
he desired me to take a little time for consideration ere I gave 
my final answer ; and the result of reconsideration and of 
consultation with friends was that the next morning I accepted 
the offer. 

1352*3 Z 


I wish that it had so happened that at the period of my 
thus undertaking to serve under Lord Durham our acquaint- 
ance had been of longer standing, and that I had been on 
those terms of perfect confidence with him to which I very 
soon attained. For though nothing could be more uniformly 
kind than Lord Durham was to me from the first, though he 
was not long in giving me his confidence, and when he gave it 
gave, as he always did, without reserve, yet the mere awkward- 
ness arising from imperfect personal acquaintance is enough 
in any case for some time to prevent a sufficiently free com- 
munication between two people. Had we at the outset been 
on the terms on which we got in a very few weeks, I think 
I might have enabled Lord Durham to avoid what always 
struck me at the time and has, I think, since proved to have 
been an error most injurious to the success of the mission. 
This was the delay that occurred before we entered upon it ; 
and though the season of the year placed some difficulties in 
the way of our going to Quebec in the mode that appeared 
most desirable, I think that Lord Durham's first object should 
have been that of commencing his work with promptitude. 
The delay took off the bloom of the mission ; the insurrection 
was to all appearance wholly suppressed before we started ; 
the danger began to be thought less urgent ; and the general 
impression of the necessity for great powers and unusual 
measures was gradually weakened. We soon felt the effect 
of this, for as the first alarm so the first unanimity wore off, 
and the Tories, as they recovered spirits, began to find all 
manner of faults with the mission, and to circulate a variety 
of falsehoods, to draw invidious comparisons between Lord 
Durham and Sir John Colborne, and to depreciate the moral 
effect of the powers of the new Governor -General. 

This altered state of feeling soon began to show itself in 
the Press, and in Parliament we had a very unpleasant 
indication of it in the very near success of Lord Chandos's 
motion respecting the expenses of the mission. Soon after 
that difficulties began to be experienced with respect to the 
appointment of Mr. Turton ; and the opposition to Lord 
Durham here commenced on the part of supporters and 
members of the Government. It is impossible now not to 
regret an appointment, which was the occasion of so much 
subsequent annoyance and evil. Useful as Mr. Turton's legal 
knowledge and abilities were, and creditable to Lord Durham 
as was his eagerness to avail himself of the opportunity afforded 
him of serving an old and unfortunate friend by the sugges- 
tion of giving him the appointment, which was made to him 


^B it caiinot but be regretted that the appointment was ever made, 
^« and still more so that after the difficulties, which prevented 
its being sanctioned by the Colonial Office, Mr. Turton should 
have been taken out without the written approval of the 
ministers. But there was the very clearest understandmg 
respectuig the terms on Avhich Mr. Turton was to go out. It 
was distinctly arranged between them and Lord Durham that 
though the appointment was not to be made by ministers or 
in England, Mr. Turton was to go out with us, it being left 
to Lord Durham to appoint him to office on his own responsi- 
bility after our arrival in Canada. Lord Durham, confiding 
in the promised forbearance of the Tories and the cordial 
support of ministers, left the matter on this footing of clear 
but unwritten understanding. Unhappily we had none of us 
then learned how necessary it was to distrust both. 

It is painful now to recall the circumstances of our embarka- 
tion in the Hastings. I had got on board about an hour 
before Lord Durham came, and, having found everything in 
my cabin in utter confusion, I had been exerting myself so 
busily in seeing things arranged as well as possible that every 
melancholy thought naturally excited by leaving England 
had been for the moment completely put out of my mind. 
I had just got over my difficulties, when the steamer bringing 
Lord Durham and his family came alongside. All the parade 
of naval reception was of course exhibited on the occasion : 
the marines were drawn up, and the officers, with the captain 
at their head, were on the deck, when Lord Durham, who had 
been very ill the night before, came looking very pale, and 
\vrapped in a large cloak, with Lady Durham and his children 
around him. Painful thoughts arose within me at the sight 
of a man so distinguished leaving his country with his whole 
family for what, though an honourable, was stHl a painful 
exile, and a duty of arduous responsibility ; and when on 
a sudden the band struck up its loud and slow strain, the 
sudden excitement brought the tears at once into my eyes. 
I did not long indulge these feelings, I thought that this was 
but a passing and necessary trial attendant on the outset of 
a career of high utility and honour, of which the first glory 
would be the pacification of Canada, and the ultimate reward 
would be renown, power, and happiness at home. But the 
foreboding of the first moment was unfortunately more pro- 
phetic than my calmer afterthought. 

In one respect we did most certainly merit success : for 
never I believe, did men embark in any public undertaking 



with more singleness and lionesty of purpose. During the long 
period of our voyage out we read over all the public documents 
connected mth the subject of our mission, and the dispatches, 
instructions, and other papers mth which the Colonial Office 
had supplied us ; and very fully did we discuss all the various 
and difficult questions which it appeared to us that we should 
have to solve. We had, I must again say, very little thought 
of ourselves,- and a ver}^ absorbing desire so to perform our 
task as to promote the best interests both of Canada and of 
Great Britain. And I think I may also say that we had very 
few prejudices to mislead us. I used indeed then to think 
that Lord Durham had too strong a feeling against the French 
Canadians on account of their recent insurrection. I looked 
on that insurrection as having been provoked by the long 
injustice, and invited by the deplorable imbecility of our 
colonial policy ; and I thought that our real sympathies 
ought to be \\dth a people whose ultimate purposes were 
aright, though by the misconduct of others they had been 
drawn into rebellion. But Lord Durham from the first took 
a far sounder view of the matter ihe saw what narrow and 
mischievous spirit lurked at the bcrttom of all the acts of the 
French Canadians ; and Awhile he was prepared to do the 
individuals full justice, and justice with mercy, he had made 
up his mind that no quarter should be shown to the absurd 
pretensions of race, and that he must throw himself on the 
support of the British feelings, and aim at making Canada 
thoroughly BritisTQ 

It was not, however, only these questions, paramount as 
they of course were to all others, that formed the subject of 
our many and long conversations in the Hastings ; and 
I look back wdth satisfaction to the interesting views which 
Lord Durham often gave me of the great questions of European 
polic}^ and of the important events, in which he had borne 
so great a part. Many a stin-ing scene of old political con- 
flicts did he recount, and many a secret history did he give, 
which explained the nature and causes of some of the great 
political movements of our time. 

In spite, however, of all our occupations Ave got somewhat 
tired of our voyage before the first land on the American 
continent met our eyes. An ungenial aspect did our new 
home present to us as we lay for two or three days beating 
about at the mouth of the St. Lawrence, now looking at the 
long low desert island of Anticosti, now borne close to 
the unpeopled forests of Gaspe, and noAv catching a glimpse of 
the icy rocks of Labrador glittering in the far distance. Here, 



however, we received a file of Quebec papers, that gave us 
some insight into what was passing in Lower Canada. Nor 
was the information by any means assuring. The French 
Canadians, it is true, appeared to be making no movement ; 
but for this very reason it seemed to be generally apprehended 
that they were preparing their forces for some new attempt. 
The people of the United States were represented as univer- 
sally fomenting and aiding the designs of the disaffected, and 
as hardly to be restrained from breaking into open hostility. 
Amid all these dangers the British population of Lower Canada 
was evidently torn in pieces by numerous and furious dissen- 
sions. A very violent party, while it called for war with the 
United States, and for the harshest measures against the 
French Canadians, kept no terms with its own Government, 
and denounced both local and Imperial authorities in the 
most unmeasured terms. We learned that a few days before, 
in anticipation of our arrival, a meeting of the British popula- 
tion had taken place at Quebec. At this the violent party 
appeared to have carried the day ; various speakers had used 
language expressive of very little confidence in the Governor- 
General, and an address had been adopted which, though it 
contained nothing positively offensive, showed the bad spirit 
that animated those who had assumed the lead of what was 
called the British party. This intelligence, disagreeable as it 
was, proved nevertheless of use, because it prepared Lord 
Durham beforehand for the kind of feeling and language which 
he was to meet with on landing. And during the two or three 
days that elapsed before our arrival at Quebec he prepared 
the proclamation to the inhabitants of British North America 
which he published on disembarking. 

It is not my business here to narrate Avith minuteness every 
little incident that occurred, or to recall the various scenes 
of our mission as they passed before our e3^es. But I cannot 
look back Avithout emotion at the bright and cheerful day on 
which we arrived at Quebec. When we got on deck in the 
morning we found the river considerably narrowed from its 
width of the previous day ; the high mountains, which then 
seemed to overhang us, were now seen at a distance in the 
background, and between them and the river there extended 
on each side a long line of well-cultivated and apparently 
densely-peopled country, which presented to our view what 
looked almost like a long street of white cottages and farm- 
buildings. It was one of the first fine days of the late spring 
of that country ; the snow was off the ground, and the first 
signs of incipient vegetation were visible in the fields which 


lay close to us on each side as, with wind and tide in our 
favour, we advanced with great rapidity up the river. It was 
Sunday, and as at every two or three miles we passed a village 
church on one side or the other, the whole population seemed 
to be collected on either shore to w^atch the progress of their 
new Governor. 

At last over a reach of the river we saw the black line of the 
ramparts of Quebec, and the tin roofs of the city glittering 
in the sun ; and, having passed through the noble basin, 
which stretches before the town, we found ourselves amid 
a whole fleet of men-of-war, beneath the very guns of the 
magnificent fortress. Our landing did not take place for 
a couple of days, but from the moment of our arrival in the 
harbour we received the visits of the various authorities and 
public officers of the province. 

At the very moment of landing, and taking upon himself 
the government, it became necessary for Lord Durham to 
resolve upon a very important and bold step. For it was 
usual for the new Governor immediately after having taken 
the oaths of office, to proceed to swear in those of whom he 
intended to form his Executive Council, and the custom had 
been for every new Governor to continue the Council of his 
predecessor. This, however, Lord Durham had made up his 
mind not to do, and subsequent reflection has only more and 
more convinced me that this was the wisest course of conduct 
which he could have pursued. The strange system of colonial 
government, by which every person once in office was held in 
practice to be for ever irremovable, had had the effect of 
filling the Executive Council with some of the oldest men of 
every clique that had in succession ruled the province. Many 
of these either happened to have been subordinate members 
of their party, or to have been selected simply because they 
were attached to no party, and being men of little strength of 
character, or position in public life, were likely to be very 
docile agents of the one or two persons who really managed 
the government. No one of them possessed the confidence 
of the British population. The only one who, from his talents 
and previous career, formed an exception to the general 
nullity which I have described, was Mr. Debartzch, one of the 
ablest and most active of the French Canadians. He had been 
recently placed in the Council by Lord Gosford. This man, 
however, was, more than any other man in the province, 
obnoxious to the British population, on account of his very 
talents, on account of the formidable use which he had made 
of these talents, when as a coadjutor of Papineau, he had 


been one of the leaders of the French, and yet more on account 
of the influence which he had exercised over Lord Gosford, 
who was supposed to have been entirely guided by his advice 
in that whole course of policy which was so universally and 
vehemently condemned by the British. He was not less 
odious to the French, who reproached him as a renegade from 
his party and his race, and who ascribed to him those coercive 
measures which they represented as having provoked the 
insurrection. All the component parts of the Executive 
Council were in truth generally obnoxious and destitute of 
moral influence. Lord Durham did quite wisely in keeping 
clear of them, and in letting the public see that he did so. 
He resolved at once not to retain the Executive Council, but 
to form a new one, which might discharge the mere acts of 
routine to which the Constitutional Act required the assent 
of an Executive Council, composing it of persons who had 
either come with him from England, or who had previously 
taken little part in the politics of the province. Accordingly 
he determined at the outset to compose his council of his 
three secretaries, together with the Commissary-General, and 
Mr. Daly, the provincial secretary, whom Sir John Colborne 
had recommended as the most unexceptionable of the public 
officers of the province. This determination shocked the 
prejudices of the old official body, and not only was it the 
subject of warm remonstrances beforehand, but on the occasion 
of the investiture, the Clerk of the Council, though apprised 
of Lord Durham's intention, attempted to surprise him into 
swearing in the whole Council as a matter of course. But 
this attempt Lord Diu-ham checked very decisively, and the 
same day he put into my hands the draft of a letter, in which 
I was to inform the Executive Councillors of his determina- 
tion, and of the grounds on which he had formed it. This 
document was taken as the programme of a new system of 
administering the government free of the influence of these 
local cabals, which were odious to the whole province. The 
act of dispensing with the old Executive Council, and the 
statement of the grounds on which it was done, were not 
unpalatable to the British, and very gratifying to the French 
Canadians. ' II a fait deja une bonne chose,' said an old 
inhabitant at Montreal to Mr. Viger, who asked him what 
he thought of the Governor-General ; ' il a tue les deux Con- 

This measure has, however, been blamed as if Lord Durham 
had thereby voluntarily deprived himself of the valuable 
advice of all the persons best acquainted with the mysteries 


of provincial government, and of the moral influence of their 
character and experience. The value of their individual 
advice and influence I have already shown. It must not be 
supposed, however, that Lord Durham was insensible to the 
necessity of local experience and wise advisers. But the truth 
was that from its official ranks the province could supply him 
Avith no advisers on whom he could safely rely. With the 
exception of Mr. Daly, every one of the body had been so 
mixed up with the ancient and odious system of exclusive 
government and jobbing — had rendered himself so obnoxious 
to one party or the other, or more often to aU — and had con- 
tracted such violent antipathies, that it would have been 
most imprudent to trust to their representations and advice. 
We found the whole machine of government utterly disor- 
ganized and powerless. The official body, as the head of 
whom we might still regard Mr. Sewell, the Chief Justice of 
the province, was a class perfectly apart from every other, 
possessing the confidence neither of French nor of British, 
and exercising not the slightest influence over the public 
mind. The Chief Justice had for some years ceased to play 
an important part in politics, and at the period of our arrival 
his age had wholly unfitted him for active exertions. Of the 
younger members of the official body none had at all exhibited 
talents so remarkable as his, or could be relied upon as an 
impartial or capable adviser of the Government. The Attorney- 
General, Mr. Ogden, whose office was really the most important 
in the province, though a much more kindly disposed and 
honest man than my pre\dous notions had led me to expect 
that I should find him, was, after all, endowed with so little 
political knowledge or capacity that it was impossible for 
Lord Durham to place any reliance on his advice. Our official 
advisers were, in fact, men of little capacity and great unpopu- 
larity. Lord Durham could have gained little from their 
counsels except the contagion of their party antipathies and 
the odium of being supposed to be under their influence. 

When we came to look around us, and endeavoured to 
judge of the feelings and situation of the different classes of 
the population, it appeared at first sight utterly impossible 
to ascertain the truth about either. The great mass of the 
population of Lower Canada — those of the French race — 
appeared to be placed utterly beyond the reach of any com- 
munication with the Government. There could, however, be 
no doubt that this whole population was thoroughly disaffected 
to the British Government ; that it remained brooding over 
the memory of its late defeat and the annihilation of its recent 


predominance ; and that it cherished the hope of avenging its 
imagined wrongs and triumphing over its rulers by means of 
more combined insurrection and the aid of foreign arms. The 
greater part of its ancient leaders were fugitives or prisoners ; 
of the few who remained in Canada some were too timid, 
some too full of resentment, to take any open part in politics ; 
and some, whom we had imagined to possess great influence, 
appeared to have become objects of suspicion to their country- 
men. The Catholic clergy in the diocese of Quebec, under 
a good and quiet bishop, were loyal and well disposed ; those 
of the diocese of Montreal, under the influence of their bishop, 
Lartique, were supposed in many instances not to be very 
well affected. But the priesthood had in great measure lost 
their influence, and though we made use of them at first as 
a means of formal communication with their parishioners, 
and though they sometimes gave us useful private information, 
they supplied us mth no channel of efficient intercourse with 
the French. With the mass of that body the Government 
could, in fact, get into no confidential communication. Their 
desires, as far as they could be ascertained, seemed to be wild 
and impracticable. All demanded, and perhaps the greater 
part really expected, that the new Government would attempt 
to conciliate them by placing things just in the position in 
which they had been before the insurrection, that Lord 
Durham would re-establish the Constitution which Parlia- 
ment had suspended, bring back the Local Assembly with its 
French majoritj^ grant a complete amnesty to the insurgent 
leaders, and trust them with all the powers that they had 
been used to demand during the period of their greatest 
influence and most exaggerated pretensions. Some hopes of 
a more reasonable kind, a few of the leaders of the party 
appear to have entertained from the known liberal views of 
Lord Durham. But the language of their addresses was con- 
strained and cold ; in some cases it was such that Lord 
Durham felt compelled to check their extravagant demands, 
and the great body of them immediately relapsed into their 
sullen and distant apathy. 

The leaders of the British party, who were for the most 
part leading merchants in Montreal, with one or two of the 
same class in Quebec, were the men who had for some time, 
through their influence in the Legislative, and subsequently 
in Sir John Colborne's Special Council, exercised a gi'eat in- 
fluence over the Government of the province, and were little 
pleased at the change of circumstances, which partly by the 
necessary consequences of the suspension of the Constitution, 


and partly by Lord Durham's own policy, had excluded them 
from all direct share in the Government. These men, how- 
ever, had too much tact voluntarily to place themselves in 
open collision with the Governor-General. The mass of the 
British population, however, heated by the fierce conflict of 
the two races, were after all in the main actuated by very 
laudable purposes. Their main object was the tranquillity 
and improvement of the province, whereby they hoped that 
their own industrial occupations might be rendered more 
secure and profitable. 

The subversion of the French ascendency had gone far to 
satisfy most of them, and the appointment of Lord Durham 
to exercise the vast powers vested in the Governor-General 
had been popular with the great mass of them, because from 
his liberal opinions and known energy of character they 
expected that speedy and extensive reforms would be made 
in the obnoxious institutions of the province, and a great 
impulse given to its internal improvement. The leaders, seeing 
this tendency among them, had gone with them in it : the 
cold and repulsive spirit of the meeting at Quebec had found 
very few imitators in the province ; the addresses of the 
British were general and warm, and the deputations that pre- 
sented them were numerous and friendly, and Lord Durham 
improved their good dispositions by the reception which he 
gave them. All his answers to their addresses showed how 
skilfully he had divined the true mode of acquiring their 
confidence. He appealed boldly and strongly to the feel- 
ings which he knew to animate the British population. He 
spoke always of the greatness of the mother country and of 
the importance and wonderful capabilities of the colony, and, 
appealing to them to use every effort to improve its resources, 
promised them an efficient co-operation on his own part and 
that of the Imperial Government. By these means he speedily 
excited among them an enthusiasm and attachment such as 
no Governor before or since ever aroused. The splendour of 
his establishment, which had been the theme of ridicule 
among superficial observers at home, had a great effect on 
the minds of the British colonists. The civilities, which no 
one could apply with such grace, because with such dignity, 
went a great way in conciliating the leaders, who were thus 
flattered with the belief that if they had lost some power, 
they had lost none of that consideration which, after all, is 
what vulgar minds look on as the best part of power. In 
a very short time Lord Durham had by these means com- 
pletely gained the confidence of almost the whole British 


population. They looked forward with the fullest expecta- 
tion of finding his measures in accordance with the feelings 
that he had charmed them by expressing. Our main diffi- 
culty with them arose from their wish to push their victory 
over their opponents further than good feeling or good pohcy 
would permit. This was the sure consequence of a dangerous 
and protracted conflict, and the British wished not only to 
disable the French so as to prevent their future aggressions, 
but also to wreak their revenge upon them under the forms 
of law. 

But the state of the Lower Province was not the only 
subject of difficulty and anxiety. The accounts which we 
received from Upper Canada were from the first most alarm- 
ing. The cause of the dissensions and disorders there it was 
not easy to understand. It was clear that there had been 
very extensive and violent disaffection. It was also clear that 
the dominant party there had taken advantage of the recent 
insurrection to exercise the greatest severity towards their 
opponents. This had only increased the discontents, and if 
the tendency to actual revolt had been checked, the number 
of persons seriously dissatisfied with the Government was at 
this time far greater than it had been before the insurrection. 
The Governor, Sir George Arthur, a very weak and timid 
man, seemed to be divided between his deference for the con- 
ciliatory policy dictated by Lord Glenelg and his subservience 
to the violent counsels of the Family Compact, under whose 
influence he had completely fallen. From our first landing 
he sent us the most alarming accounts, one after the other, of 
the insurrectionary spirit of the Upper Province, and of the 
formidable plans as well of the refugees, who hung on its 
frontiers, as of the whole border population of the United 
States. And before the end of the month his alarms, though 
exaggerated, received some confirmation from the invasion 
and outbreak which took place under Morrow, Chandler, and 
others at the Short Hills in the Niagara district. 

But there was quite enough in the state of our relations 
with the United States to inspire the boldest and calmest 
mind with deep apprehensions. The Canadian refugees col- 
lected along the frontier from New Hampshire to Michigan, 
rendered desperate by their exile and the ruin of all their 
prospects in life, were everywhere preparing a threatening 
invasion, and doing almost as much mischief to the peace- 
able inhabitants of the Canadas by the alarms which they 
thus kept up, as could have resulted from actual incursions. 
They kept the appearance if not the reaUty of an incessant 


correspondence with disaffected persons on our side of the 
frontier, and they seemed to have the support also of a general 
and active sympathy on the other side. It was impossible 
to ascertain what proportion or what class of the American 
public were prepared to aid the fugitives. But the lawless 
and wild race that peopled the frontiers, especially the shores 
of the Great Lakes, were evidently eager for some desperate 
enterprise of plunder or conquest, and these alone; in the 
circumstances of that time, and on that defenceless and 
extended line, were a formidable support to internal dis- 
affection. At public meetings, too, the hostile language of 
the refugees and their less reputable associates seemed to 
be countenanced by persons of character and property, who 
might be supposed to be under the influence of political 
fanaticism or national antipathy. This open violence was 
supposed to be abetted by wealthy men who were disposed 
to speculate on the chances of war, and the profits of a con- 
quest of Canada. The strong and general opinion of the 
respectable citizens doubtless discountenanced this aggressive 
spirit. But even among these there existed much sympathy 
with colonists supposed to be struggling against that tyranny 
of the mother country, which had driven the forefathers of 
the American people into revolt. Some remains of old national 
antipathy to Great Britain yet appeared to exist, and the 
insolent language in which not merely reckless individuals 
but even some of the authorities in Canada, especially Sir 
Francis Head, had denounced the people and institutions of 
the United States had greatly incensed many of them. A 
large section of the newspaper press supported the refugees 
and their allies, and each of the great political parties in the 
Union seemed occasionally disposed to recruit partisans by 
assuming a warlike tone towards Great Britain. It was 
asserted that the Government of Washington was not guilt- 
less of encouraging these feelings, and of conniving at the 
most unjustifiable enterprises against the British colonies ; 
and it was quite clear that the Federal Executive, even if so 
disposed, was not very capable of putting a stop to them with 
sufficient decision. These evils, great in reality, were magni- 
fied tenfold by the rumours designedly spread by the many, 
who on each side of the frontier found their account in foment- 
ing disturbance and alarm. 

It Avas only three or four days after our landing that these 
alarms were brought to a head by the news of the burning of 
the Sir Robert Peel, a British steamer, in the American waters 
of the St. Lawrence by a desperate smuggler known by the 


line of ' Bill Johnson ', who had long haunted the Thousand 
[sles, and now appeared resolved to carry on his marauding 
trade under colour of Canadian ' patriotism '. The alarm 
excited by this desperado's force or designs was, however, 
light in comparison with that occasioned by the chances of 
collision with the United States, which this outrage presented. 
Immediately afterwards this alarm was increased by intelli- 
gence of another violation of the pacific relations of the two 
countries, which had occurred at Brockville, where British 
sentries had fired on a peaceable American steamboat, the 
Telegraph. The angry feeling on both sides was now raised 
to the highest pitch ; the press indulged in the warmest 
recriminations, and the more violent residents on each side of 
the line loudly threatened their neighbours with invasion and 
reprisals. It seemed hardly possible to preserve peace, and 
I, who had up to that time indulged the most sanguine hopes 
of the pacification of Canada, thought that all chance of 
success in that object would very speedily be destroyed by 
the breaking out of a war between Great Britain and the 
United States. 

Out of all this evil the vigour and sagacity of Lord Durham 
brought immediate and great good. On the receipt of the 
intelligence of the destruction of the Sir Robert Peel, he offered 
a reward of a thousand pounds to any one who should bring 
the offenders to trial and conviction in the courts of the 
United States. But while by this step he declared the deter- 
mination of the British Government to protect its subjects, 
and thereby conciliated the goodwill of the loyal inhabitants 
of Canada, he took care to show the utmost respect for the 
Government of the United States by exhibiting his confidence 
in its good faith. He determined to take this opportunity of 
impressing on that Government the necessity of a prompt 
and cordial co-operation with ours for the suppression of 
disorders fraught with such danger to the pacific relations of 
the two countries. For this purpose he despatched Colonel 
Grey to Washington. This mission was attended with the 
best results. The friendly declarations of the President and 
Secretary of State were accompanied by substantial proofs of 
sincerity. The force on the borders was increased, the strict 
laws of neutrality recently passed by Congress were at length 
enforced, and wdthin a fortnight from Colonel Grey's arrival 
at Washington, the forces of Great Britain and the United 
States Avere co-operating on the lakes and St. Lawrence in 
repressing the disturbers of the common peace. 

These precautions against the interruption of peace with 


the United States were our first serious business, and while 
harassed and occupied with this we received most discourag- 
ing news from home. Within a week from our arrival in Canada 
we heard of the discussions which had taken place in the 
House of Lords immediately after our leaving England, in 
reference to the appointment of Mr. Turton. The determina- 
tion of the Tory peers to impair Lord Durham's authority 
by constant attacks in the worst spirit of faction were not 
nearly so discouraging as the apparent readiness of Lord 
Melbourne to abandon and even blame him. The despatches 
which we received on this subject drew forth answers from 
Lord Durham, in which he expressed very freely his feelings 
with respect to the conduct of ministers. Thus from the 
outset was there distrust and ill feeling between the two 
parties, owing to what, if not cowardice or indifference, could 
only be viewed as proof of very malignant perfidy on the part 
of the Government. And thus, amid all the difficulties of our 
task on the spot, there hung over us from the first like a cloud 
the depressing consciousness that we had no support to rely 
on at home, that faction would make no allowance for the 
difficulties and dangers of our position, but seize hold of every 
pretext for discrediting and thwarting Lord Durham, and 
that to uphold him against such assaults he could rely on 
no sincerity or energy on the part of the ministers whom he 
was serving. 

It was, however, necessary for him to proceed in his course 
without faltering, and give some earnest of his intention to 
carry into effect the reforms which he had promised. The 
state of the province and all its institutions afforded ample 
scope for the amending hand, and in the month of June, 
before our departure for Montreal and Upper Canada, Lord 
Durham made some considerable practical reforms. The first 
was the establishment of a very efficient police in Quebec, 
where before this there had in fact been none. This institu- 
tion was immediately afterwards extended to Montreal, where 
the want of a good police had been quite as much felt. The 
Report gives a view of the disgraceful neglect that had pre- 
viously existed, from which it will be easy to see for how 
necessary and important a protection to person, property, 
and order the inhabitants of these two cities are indebted to 
Lord Durham. 

Among the practical grievances of the province none was 
more palpable, and certainly none more injurious, than the 
gross mismanagement of the Crown lands. One of Lord 
Durham's first objects in his mission was to lay the founda- 



tions of such a reform in the administration of them as might 
render them instrumental in promoting that influx of colonists 
which was requisite for the accomplishment of his great 
schemes for the improvement of the colonies. With this end 
in view he had engaged Mr. Wakefield to come from England 
about the time of our own departure, having for some time 
been acquainted with him, and having completely entered 
into all his views of colonies and emigration. On the 18th of 
June he issued the Commission for an Inquiry into the state 
of the Crown Lands in all the North American Colonies. As 
Lord Glenelg, though well aware beforehand of Mr. Wakefield's 
coming out with Lord Durham, had, when frightened by the 
discussions about Mr. Turton, written to prohibit Mr. Wake- 
field's being employed publicly, I was nominally placed at 
the head of the Commission. But my other avocations entirely 
prevented my taking any part in the work ; the details of it 
were accordingly left to my Assistant Commissioner, Mr. 
Hanson, but the real direction of the whole business was 
entrusted to Mr. Wakefield, who had no ostensible employ- 
ment. A very thorough inquiry was instituted at Quebec 
and Toronto by Mr. Hanson ; an Assistant Commissioner was 
sent to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward's 
Island ; witnesses were examined, and statistical information 
carefully collected. The result of these labours afterwards 
appeared in that most valuable Report on Crown Lands and 
Emigration, which forms Appendix B to Lord Durham's 

The last of the practical reforms now effected, which I need 
mention, was rendered necessary by the limited number of 
an Executive Council, which imposed on Lord Durham the 
necessity of taking some measures with regard to the juris- 
diction in appeals from the courts of law of the province. 
The Executive Council was, by virtue of an Imperial Act, 
which Lord Durham could not alter, the sole supreme appel- 
late tribunal of Lower Canada, and it was necessary that its 
sittings should be held during the early part of the month 
of July, when some of the members of the Council would be 
absent with Lord Durham in his visit to Upper Canada. He 
could take no step to provide against this difficulty without 
becoming sensible of the absurdity of the system by which the 
decision of the most difficult and important legal questions in 
the province had been left to a numerous body of persons, 
for the most part wholly ignorant of law. He took this 
occasion, therefore, instead of merely completing the quorum, 
to constitute a really efficient Court of Appeal on sound 


principles. He composed it almost wholly of the highest and 
ablest judges of the province. In order to keep up the neces- 
sary quorum he added Mr. Turton, whose great legal know- 
ledge and experience rendered his presence in the Court most 
useful, and for the same reason he was obliged to add my 
brother. The Court as thus constituted held only these 
single sittings. But the opinion of both bar and suitors was 
unanimously in favour of the soundness and importance of this 
reform. It was agreed on all hands that so efficient a Court 
of Appeal had never before been seen in the province. 

But the most important and difficult task remained to be 
done by the disposal of the prisoners who had filled the gaols 
since the suppression of the insurrection. This was a matter 
wholly foreign to the true purpose of our mission ; it had 
been thrown upon us by the timidity of Sir John Colborne, 
who, swayed backwards and forwards, as all the authorities 
in the Canadas were, between the ferocity of the dominant 
party in the province and the more enlightened orders 
which came to him from England, determined to shift the 
responsibility of this most delicate business from himself on 
to Lord Durham. The difficulty of disposing of the prisoners 
had in no degree been diminished by the delay. It is true 
that the leading men of the British party had begun to enter- 
tain more rational and humane feelings than had animated 
them on the first suppression of the insurrection ; and the 
mass of the British, though still thirsting for some blood, 
were, as the event proved, very easy to be reconciled to 
a lenient course. But the difficulty of getting any punish- 
ment at all infficted by the verdict of a jury had been only 
increased by the lapse of time, and though every one in the 
province was convinced that the allowing the prisoners to 
escape without any punishment would have the most dangerous 
results, we felt that public opinion in England would revolt 
from our having recourse to military tribunals so long after 
the cessation of the insurrection and martial law. We might, 
by altering the jury law, or by using the influence of Govern- 
ment over the sheriffs, have secured a British jury, which 
would have convicted the innocent and guilty alike. But 
besides the mischiefs of a public trial, which must have brought 
to light many things that for the honour of Government and 
of individuals, as well as for the best interests of order, it was 
most important to bury in oblivion, and the publication of 
which would probably have rendered it necessary to deal 
severely with those who should be proved to have been leaders 
in the insurrection, we all felt that it would be far more for 





he permanent interests of liberty and for the honour of the 
British Government to secure the punishment of a few guilty 
individuals by an open deviation for that purpose from the 
ordinary forms of law, than to make new laws permanently 
depriving the French Canadians of the guarantees for equal 
justice, or to set the dangerous precedent of packing a jury. 
After much deliberation on this matter, Mr. Turton and 
I, to whom the investigation of the details had been left, 
came to the conclusion that the best course would be to 
punish the leaders certainly, but lightly, by means of an 
ex post facto law. When this was first proposed to Lord 
Durham he instantly saw what an outcry would be raised in 
England against an act so contrary to our notions of liberty 
and law ; and he refused to take any step of the kind unless 
it should be requested by the prisoners themselves. The 
prisoners, who expected the Government to avail itself of its 
power of packing a jury, and ensuring their capital punish- 
ment, were very ready to petition to be disposed of without 
trial, and as I had in the meantime ascertained that the pro- 
posed mode of dealing with them would not be condemned by 
the leading men of the British party. Lord Durham adopted 
the plan proposed, and on the 28th of June, the day of Her 
Majesty's coronation, issued the famous Ordinance with 
respect to the prisoners, and the Proclamation of Amnesty. 
The ultimate results of this bold step neither Lord Durham 
nor those with him are responsible for ; its immediate effects 
were even more satisfactory than we had ventured to antici- 
pate. In America its success was complete. The British 
population of Lower Canada, after a few partial indications 
of dissatisfaction, universally acquiesced in it. The French, 
who were not disposed to be satisfied with anything but an 
entire concession to all their most unreasonable views, were 
awed by the decision, and conciliated by the lenity of the 
act. After a while they ceased to murmur at it. But its 
reception in the United States was most satisfactory. All 
parties agreed in extolling it as a noble, wise, and liberal act. 
The very newspapers that had previously been most violent 
in assailing the British Government changed their tone for 
a while. And the revulsion of feeling throughout the Union 
was general and permanent. From that hour the feelings of 
national jealousy and political sympathy gave way to that of 
admiration of Lord Durham. From that hour the disaffected 
in Canada ceased to derive any aid from the public opinion of 
our neighbours, and among our difficulties we had no longer 
to contend with the chance of war with the United States. 

1352-3 A a 



I think there was only one error with which throughout 
this business Lord Durham is justly chargeable, and it was 
an error to which I must attribute most injurious effects. He 
ought, in announcing such a step to the Home Government, to 
have given an ample and detailed statement of the grounds 
on which he had felt it right to compose his Special Council, 
and dispose of the prisoners as he had done ; and I fear that 
to the absence of some such explanation, which might have 
been laid before Parliament, and served to convey a know- 
ledge of the real state of affairs, is to be ascribed that mis- 
apprehension on these points which enabled Lord Durham's 
assailants to produce any effect on the public mind. The 
composition of our Special Council was calculated to be 
misunderstood by those who did not know how difficult it 
would have been to find any better materials in Lower Canada. 
If Lord Durham had fully explained the grounds of his Ordin- 
ance, the public at home would readily have appreciated his 
manliness in composing his Special Council so as in fact to 
shift no responsibility off his own shoulders. And it could 
easily have been shown that had he composed the Council, 
as Sir John Colborne had done, of residents in the province, 
he must in the existing state of things have thereby placed 
the power of legislation in the hands of one party, which would 
assuredly have used them, as had been done under Sir John 
Colborne, for the promotion of its own interests and the 
oppression of its opponents. 

Immediately after the publication of the Ordinances, Lord 
Durham, accompanied by Sir Charles Paget, the admiral on 
the American station, set out for Montreal. Our departure 
from Quebec gave occasion for a very sullen demeanour on 
the part of the British inhabitants, who were by no means 
pleased with the lenity of the Ordinances. We heard that 
a still more unfavourable feeling would probably be exhibited 
on our arrival at Montreal. It was about the middle of the 
day of the 5th of July when our steamboat cast anchor oppo- 
site to that city, and we instantly received the visits of the 
authorities and principal inhabitants. The state of terror and 
uncertainty which then existed throughout the Canadas was 
testified to us by a hundred alarming rumours that reached 
us in the course of the day. The full effect of the Ordinances 
had not yet had time to develop itself. We had every reason 
to believe that the British inhabitants of Montreal, who, 
having been in the very midst of the preceding party struggles, 
had naturally contracted a greater violence of feeling than 
even the rest of their race in the province, would very strongly 


IH^exhibit their disapprobation of the lenity of the Ordinance. 
Nor had this measure had time to exhibit its effects on the 
public opinion of the United States, and the country was 
inundated with alarms of fresh demonstrations of American 
' sympathy ' with the insurgents. I recollect well that during 
the twenty-four hours that elapsed between our arrival in the 
port and our landing, there were brought to us no less than 
three distinct and circumstantial accounts of ' Bill Johnson's ' 
invasion of the provinces at the head of a large force of rebels 
and ' sympathizers ', he himself being reputed to have made 
his appearance at no less than three different points at the 
distance of about five hundred miles from each other. It had 
required little time to learn to give very little weight to any 
rumours that we might hear in Canada, and these produced 
little impression on us except as far as they went to convince 
us of the extremely disorganized state of men's minds in the 
province. Lord Durham had not lost the opportunity afforded 
him by the visits of the leaders of the British, who on their 
return spread the most favourable report of his views. An 
instant change was produced in the minds of this people, who 
seem to me, from all the experience I have had of them, to 
be, of all the English race that I ever met with, the most 
excitable, and the most susceptible of new impressions. When 
Lord Durham landed on the 6th, the whole city poured out 
to meet him, and received him with the utmost enthusiasm. 
We remained some days at Montreal, and it was here that 
Lord Durham, in a private interview with a large number of 
the British leaders, developed for the first time an outline of 
his views with respect to the permanent settlement of the 
colonies. These I shall hereafter detail ; the only effect which 
this communication could have in this stage of affairs was 
that of being regarded as a flattering proof of confidence in 
the persons to whom it was made. In the answers to the 
various addresses which he received from different bodies, 
Lord Durham availed himself of the opportunity of making 
known the general principles on which he meant to administer 
the government of the province. He weU knew to what 
account he could turn these occasions of ceremony, and his 
answers were all framed with the same great principles in 
view, the various aspects of which the various addresses 
enabled him to bring before the public. The chord which he 
touched in addressing all these bodies was the determination 
of Great Britain to uphold her connexion with these provinces, 
of which he painted the vast resources, and the ease with 
which they might be developed. By the consideration of 

A a2 


their common interest in this he urged both parties to union 
and tranquillity, and, while he impressed on the one the 
necessity of co-operating in the reform of their defective laws, 
and of casting aside the petty jealousies of race, he exhorted 
the other to an oblivion of the insurrection, and of the long 
course of irritating events that had preceded it. 

On the 10th we left Montreal, and soon entered Upper 
Canada, where during our progress up the river Lord Durham 
received addresses from the various towns which we passed, 
indicative, in spite of the violent dissensions that existed in 
the province, of a pretty unanimous resolution to confide in 
him. But every step that we took in this province showed 
us the fearful extent and nature of the divisions that separated 
classes and parties. These had just then unhappily been very 
seriously augmented by the very inopportune arrival of an 
opinion of the Attorney- and Solicitor-General of England in 
favour of the validity of Sir John Colborne's unpopular 
creation of the ' rectories ', and from one end to the other the 
province was agitated by a revival of the irritating discus- 
sions on the question of clergy reserves. We passed unharmed 
and unassailed through the romantic region of the Thousand 
Isles, where indeed nature seemed to have invited the attempts 
of ' Bill Johnson ' and his gang, and went straight to the 
Falls of Niagara, where Lord Durham had very wisely ordered 
a considerable display of military force to be made. At this 
spot, the general rendezvous at this season of large numbers 
of travellers of the wealthy class of the United States, the 
reviews which now took place attracted a crowd of spectators 
from the opposite side, and the presence of the Governor- 
General, of the authorities of Upper Canada, of the Admiral, 
and of a numerous and most efficient military force of every 
kind was calculated to impress on our neighbours the value 
which the British Government was disposed to attach to the 
maintenance of her empire in the Canadas, and of the efficient 
means by which that determination was backed. The hospi- 
talities that Lord Durham very widely extended to the visitors 
from the United States, were productive of even more useful 
results, because they excited in them better feelings than the 
mere dread of our arms. After the studied reserve that it 
had been usual for the leading persons in the British provinces 
to maintain towards their republican neighbours, it was most 
gratifying to the latter to be received with cordiality by the 
nobleman of the highest position with whom they had ever 
come in contact. I have often said to those who (after the 
fashion of petty carping, by which we were assailed) used to 


^fmlate on the seven or eight hundred pounds that were spent 
in the course of Lord Durham's visit to Niagara as a monstrous 
expense, that, considering the results attributed to it, a million 
of money would have been a cheap price for the single glass 
of wine which Lord Durham drank to the health of the American 
President. For such had been the absurd demeanour of the 
authorities in the British colonies towards those of the United 
States that it actually seemed as if the latter Government 
were not completely recognized by ours. This mere ordinary 
civility, therefore, on the part of the Governor -General was 
taken by the Americans present, and by their countrymen at 
large, as indicative of a thorough change of feeling and policy, 
and as a pledge of goodwill towards their country. Of the 
change thereby produced in their feelings, we had speedy and 
gratifying proofs, and these acts of civility created among the 
mass that regard for Lord Durham which the wise and humane 
policy of his government had in great measure already pro- 
duced among the more thinking. Henceforth, instead of 
incivilities being offered to every British officer who chanced 
to cross the lines, the citizens of the United States vied with 
each other in hospitality and respect to them. Lord Durham 
continued this wise course after his return to Quebec, where 
he made a point of receiving the numerous travellers from the 
United States at his house during the summer. These were 
in themselves but slight acts and easy observances, but they 
were parts of a great view of international relations, and 
produced great and good effects on the feelings and inter- 
course of two nations. It is only the man of statesmanlike 
mind who can produce a great result out of things so small 
as an invitation to dinner, or the drinking a glass of wine. 

With respect to the events which occurred during this visit 
to Upper Canada I am little qualified to speak from personal 
knowledge, as my unfortunate illness compelled Lord Durham 
to leave me behind him on his return. He visited a consider- 
able part of the province, and here, as in Lower Canada, he 
made the answer to every address the means of appealing to 
those feelings of pride in their mother country, and interest 
in the prosperity of the colony, by taking advantage of which 
alone he saw that Canada could be secured. This purpose 
was predominant in Lord Durham's mind. When from the 
Canadian shore he looked across the entrance of Lake Erie, 
and saw the noble buildings and crowded harbour of Buffalo, 
he longed to divert the stream of commerce to the British 
shore, and by means of the Welland Canal to give to Canada 
the trade between the Great Lakes and the sea. With this 


view he wrote that despatch in which he impressed on the 
Home Government the necessity of contributing a large 
sum of money to complete the great plan of internal water 
communication which the Assembly of Upper Canada had 
commenced, but had found beyond its powers of completion. 
This proposal was not, however, adopted by ministers. Lord 
Durham subsequently proposed by means of such provincial 
resources as he could command to aid in the improvement of 
the navigation of the Ottawa, the most important tributary 
of the St. Lawrence, and hardly inferior in importance to the 
main branch of the river. But his abrupt departure prevented 
his taking any steps for this purpose. 

In the short period which had elapsed between our first 
arrival in Lower Canada and our return from the Upper 
Province, a very great and beneficial change had already 
been wrought in the state of things. The change in our 
position with respect to the United States was the most im- 
portant ; no imminent risk of war any longer harassed us and 
deranged our plans ; on the contrary, the favourable feeling 
of the States came to the aid of our Government and operated 
for us in public opinion in Canada. The British party, in 
spite of the secret dissatisfaction of some of its leaders, had 
very generally rallied round Lord Durham. The French had 
become somewhat more reconciled to their lot, and though 
secret intrigues still continued to be carried on among habitans, 
the change of feeling in the United States had convinced the 
leaders of the refugees, as well as of the disaffected in the 
province, that their main support, which had been the sym- 
pathy of their neighbours, was altogether withdrawn. The 
opportunity was now afforded for setting about those internal 
reforms which Lord Durham had promised in the Gazette that 
contained the Ordinance respecting the prisoners. 

The reform which the British population had chiefly at 
heart was the commutation of the feudal tenures. With 
a view to this Lord Durham proposed to begin with two 
measures which might be regarded as parts and preliminaries 
of the general scheme. The first of these was the commutation 
of these tenures in the city of Montreal, where their operation 
was the most injurious, where the disputes respecting the title 
of the Seminary of St. Sulpice, an ecclesiastical body, to whom 
the seigniory belonged, rendered that body more ready to 
accede to a commutation than the owners of sefgniorial rights 
generally were. The second was the measure of a general 
registry of titles to land, which besides being a necessary 
accompaniment of any general commutation of tenures, was 


substantive reform. The preparation of a measure for this 
purpose was confided to Mr. Turton, who for that end pro- 
ceeded to institute extensive inquiries, and consulted the 
leading lawyers of the province, both French and English. 
The settlement of terms of an arrangement with the seminary 
had been entrusted to me, and before our journey to Upper 
Canada, I had already entered into negotiations with the 
superior of that body. The outlines of the plan, which 
appeared to me fair and expedient, and which were indeed 
almost identically the same with those proposed by Lord 
Gosford's Commission, had been communicated by me to 
some of the leading British inhabitants of Montreal. The 
matter had naturally been a good deal spoken of, the nature 
of the suggested arrangement became known, and some of the 
more stirring and unreasonable of the British party com- 
menced an agitation among the more violent of their own 
race and religion against terms, which they described as too 
favourable to a French and Catholic community. When 
Lord Durham visited Montreal on his return from Upper 
Canada a petition got up by these persons was presented to 
him, remonstrating very warmly against the arrangement, 
and not very covertly insinuating, after a fashion too common 
in the private conversation of those who in both Canadas 
affected the greatest loyalty, that the continuance of that 
loyalty would in a great measure depend on a compliance 
with their demands. This insolent threat, as well as the 
bigotry exhibited in the petition were promptly rebuked by 
Lord Durham, and his decisive conduct not only checked the 
extravagance of the leaders of this fa,natical movement, but 
elicited a strong counter-expression of opinion. At a public 
meeting held on the subject a few days after Lord Durham's 
answer to the address, the more moderate of the British 
expressed their disapprobation of the petition, and the Irish 
Catholics exhibited such marked indignation at the insolent 
tone adopted towards their clergy and religion that it became 
obvious that the bigotry of a few individuals had gone near 
to bring about that separation between the Irish Catholics and 
the remainder of the British race, which it had been the great 
care of the British leaders in their recent conflicts with the 
French most cautiously to avoid. The meeting broke up in 
disorder, all agitation on the subject ceased, and the Govern- 
ment was left to complete its arrangements with the seminary 
at its leisure. 

Two subjects of no less importance than even the com- 


mutation of the feudal tenures were at the same time under- 
taken. A Commission was issued for an inquiry into the state 
of education in the province, and another to inquire into the 
state of its municipal and local institutions. On the last of 
these Commissions it was resolved to employ a person who 
had acquired a rather unenviable notoriety by the extreme 
violence as well as ability with which he had advocated the 
views of the British party. This was Adam Thom, who had 
been for some time the principal writer in the Montreal Herald. 
The talents and energy of this man, originally a very humble 
schoolmaster in the north of Scotland, had raised him to the 
possession of the greatest influence over the mass of the British 
party, and to them the confidence now reposed in him by 
the Government was highly gratifying. Of course it was just 
as unpalatable to the French Canadians, whose press rang 
with denunciations of the ' execrable ' Thom. The only 
really bad result of this was the loss of the assistance of 
a respectable and influential French Canadian, who had con- 
sented to serve on the Commission, but declined when he 
found that he was to be associated with one who was regarded 
as the enemy of his race. But I am not at all inclined to 
doubt of the wisdom of this step. Mr. Thom was very fit for 
the business assigned to him, and performed his task with 
great integrity and judgement. Nor was his utility confined 
to that particular business. Throughout the rest of the 
mission he rendered himself most useful by the information 
which he supplied, and by his influence over the mass of the 
British population. 

His services were even more essential after our arrival in 
England, whither he returned at the same time, and his assis- 
tance in furnishing various pieces of local information and 
corrections of detail were of great value to the Report. But 
his appointment was of still more importance on account of 
the principle of selection, which the employment of a man 
so obnoxious to one race indicated. It was a great thing to 
show the violent parties in Canada that their denunciations 
should not succeed as heretofore in excluding men of ability 
from the public service. It was a great point also to take an 
able and energetic man out of the mischievous occupation of 
party agitation to enhst him in the service of the Govern- 
ment, and to employ him where his energy and talents would 
do good instead of harm. Had Lord Durham's government 
continued he would have shown that he meant to pursue the 
same course with both races alike. For when the events 
occurred Avhich put an end to his mission, he was in great 



hopes of securing the services of Mr. Morin, a French Canadian 
of great industry and knowledge, of amiable and upright 
character, and who perhaps, next to Mr. Papineau, had occupied 
the foremost position in the debates of the Assembly ; and 
who, though subjected of course to much animosity and many 
accusations, appeared to have kept quite aloof from the recent 
insiurection. The education inquiry was entrusted to my 
brother, who with great perseverance and judgement under- 
took the high but difficult task of uniting the hostile races in 
the same schools and colleges, and in spite of a good deal of 
opposition from the bigots of every race and creed, devised 
a very satisfactory scheme for the purpose, which will be 
found detailed in the Appendix D to Lord Durham's Report. 

The multitudinous business of the more ordinary administra- 
tion of the Province of Lower Canada occupied of course much 
of Lord Durham's time. 

Every question of magnitude that arose in British North 
America was referred to him. The disposal of the political 
prisoners in Upper Canada was the subject of a long and warm 
correspondence with Sir George Arthur. An application to 
Lord Durham from the wives of Chandler and Waite, two of 
the unhappy men condemned to death for what was called 
the Short HiUs insurrection, occasioned his interference in 
the first instance. This was somewhat angrily resented by 
Sir George Arthur. I need not enter into the particulars of 
a discussion which is contained in the correspondence printed 
at the end of Ridgway's edition of the Report, and which does 
honour to Lord Durham's humanity as well as to his political 
wisdom. The result was most satisfactory, for after earnest 
entreaties from Sir Greorge Arthur to be allowed to execute 
at first four, and then at least one of the convicts, the lives 
of all these unhappy men were saved, and what was even 
more important, Sir George Arthur was induced to proclaim 
a general amnesty, by which the fears of the various families 
compromised in the late risings were set at rest, and the 
greater part of the political exiles, who molested the frontier, 
were permitted to return, and became harmless at home. 

Among Lord Durham's labours during this period I must 
not forget the excellent dispatch of the 9th of August. This 
document, in which for the first time he developed for the 
information of the Home Government his views of the general 
state of Lower Canada and the causes which had produced it, 
describes very fully the hostility of the French and English 
races, the objects and characters of the contending parties, 
the state of feeling which the recent events had produced in 


the United States, the abuses of the internal government of 
the province, and the general want of confidence on the part 
of its inhabitants in the Imperial Executive and Legislature. 
The views contained in this dispatch are in fact the same as 
those subsequently given with much greater fullness in the 
Report, and the great value of the dispatch consists in this 
coincidence between it and the Report, inasmuch as it proves 
that the views expressed in the latter were not taken up by 
Lord Durham after his return to England, but that, confirmed 
by intervening experience, they were in effect the same views 
as those which he had communicated to the Ministry before 
the occurrence of the events that cut short his mission. 

Lord Durham, before leaving England, had, with a view 
principally to having some definite subject of discussion \vith 
the persons whom he might consult in the province, prepared 
the outline of a plan for the future government, founded on 
suggestions which he had received both from public docu- 
ments and discussions, and from individuals who had paid 
a great attention to the subject. Soon after his arrival in 
Canada he had taken advantage of visits from the Lieutenant- 
Governors of what are commonly called the Lower Provinces, 
to desire them to send to Quebec such persons of every party 
in their respective colonies as they might consider capable of 
giving the soundest opinion on such a subject. Accordingly, 
on the 12th of September, deputations from Nova Scotia and 
Prince Edward's Island came to Quebec, and in a few days 
after arrived that from New Brunswick. Great praise is due 
to the Governors for the skill and impartiality with which they 
had selected the deputations. Their members appeared to 
have been very fairly selected as the ablest representatives of 
the different parties in the colonies. They gave us indeed 
a very favourable opinion of the state of society in the Lower 
Provinces. Generally men of plain manners, they exhibited 
also a great deal of plain good sense and fairness. Opposed 
in provincial politics they could discuss even their own points 
of difference with candour and moderation. The deputation 
from Nova Scotia in particular pleased us highly. Some 
of its leading members were persons not only of striking 
ability, but of a degree of general information and polish of 
manners which are even less commonly met with in colonial 

The scheme which Lord Durham proposed as the basis of 
discussion was one on the principle of a federative union of 
all the existing colonies in North America. The idea of this 
had been originally thrown out by Mr. Roebuck in the House 


■ of Sir Robert Peel, as well as of Lord Howick, Mx. EUice, and 
^^ other persons who had paid much attention to colonial matters. 
l^jThe plan appeared to offer a chance of putting an end to 
^■existing discussions, of overwhelming the enemies of British 
connexion in the Canadas by the unanimous loyalty of the 
Lower Provinces, of extinguishing the pretensions of French 
nationality, and at the same time of leaving each different 
community in possession of itsjiwn laws and of the power of 
managing its own local affairs. LIhe plan had in Lord Durham's 
eyes the still greater merit of combining these large and richly 
endowed provinces for common purposes of improvement, of 
forming out of these divided and feeble elements a single 
community with vigour as well as singleness of action, and of 
thus raising up on the northern frontier of the United States 
a rival union of British colonies, which might ere long, by the 
development of its vast internal resources, form a counter- 
balancing power on the American Contmei^T/ The same 
measure would, he hoped, not only make these colonies power- 
ful, but also incline them to use their power no longer for the 
purpose of thwarting, but for that of supporting, the Imperial 
Government. In order, however, stiU further to guard against 
the contest of races, he entertained the idea of dividing 
Upper and Lower Canada into three instead of two Govern- 
ments. The wester most of these was to have been formed 
entirely of the furthest portion of Upper Canada, where the 
population would have been wholly English. The middle 
part was to be composed of a portion of Upper Canada, 
together with the whole or the greater part of the districts 
of Montreal and the Eastern Townships in Lower Canada. 
An English majority would by this means have completely 
overpowered the French population of that district in which, 
from the near approach to equality of the two races, the 
hostility between them had been the most mischievous, and 
in which the French were far more turbulent and ill affected 
than in any other parts of the province. The third govern- 
ment, comprising the country from Sorel to the eastern 
extremity of Canada, would have been entirely French. But 
the French of the greater part of this district, particularly 
those below Quebec, are so comparatively quiet a race, there 
is such a paucity of English there, and consequently so little 
collision occurs between the races, that we had every reason 
for thinking that such a French community might have 
proved tolerably tranquil and well affected. At any rate the 
disturbances of a single province would, under the federal 


system, have been local, and need not have disturbed the 
general legislation and tranquillity of British North America. 

Our conferences with the deputations were harmonious and 
satisfactory. I need not now specify the effects produced on 
our opinions by these discussions, nor how it was that our 
views (for it was so not only with Lord Durham, but with all 
of us) gradually took the shape in which they were embodied 
in the Report. The urgency of a union was more forcibly 
impressed on our minds in the course of our conferences, and 
still more by subsequent events. And as we discussed the 
details of a plan, so the merits of a federal scheme faded away 
by degrees, and we became convinced of the propriety of such 
a complete legislative union of the provinces as was after- 
wards proposed in Lord Durham's Report. The language 
held by the deputations showed us that the public mind of 
all the provinces was prepared for a union, and that such 
a measure would be conducive to their separate interests as 
well as to the common good of the empire. 

In the midst of these occupations we received the astound- 
ing news of the disallowance of the Ordinance of the 28th of 
June. Previous intelligence had by no means prepared us for 
this. Lord Durham had received not only a dispatch from 
Lord Glenelg, but also an autograph letter from the Queen 
highly approving of the Ordinance. We had no reason to 
believe from the reports of the first debates on the subject in 
Parliament that any person would join Lord Brougham and 
Mr. Leader in their outcry against the Ordinance. Lord 
Durham had always had misgivings as to the result. I will 
own that I had felt none. I thought that the merciful and 
pacifying purpose of the Act would have so pleased the great 
mass of our countrymen that there would have been no 
dissent from their universal approbation. I still think that 
I judged the mass of my countrymen aright, and that by 
them Lord Durham's Ordinances were fairly appreciated and 
fully approved. But he counted more accurately than I did 
on the selfishness of parties and the consequences of intrigue. 
I recollect well the day that the news arrived. I happened, 
amid my usual fatigues, to have that morning a few hours of 
leisure, and at Lord Durham's request I went with him on an 
exclusion in the neighbourhood. The incidents of this little 
journey are fresh in my recollection even now ; I well remem- 
ber what we saw, and how we talked, and how we laughed 
under the bright Canadian sky in that fine autumn day. As 
I was walking back from the carriage to my lodgings some one 
told me the news in general terms, but I supposed it to originate 


it. However, when I got into the carriole to go with Mr. 
Turton to dinner, he told me that the report was quite true, 
and when I arrived at the house Lord Durham sent for me, 
told me the news, and, almost more by manner than words, 
let me know that his mind was made up to resign his govern- 
ment. I saw indeed from the first that such would inevitably 
be the result, and that here — ^for a while at least — was destroyed 
the whole fabric of improvement that Lord Durham had with 
so much labour and anxiety been building up during the 
period of his government. 

Whenever up to this time the least mention had been made 
of resignation, I had invariably combated it as a thing not to 
be for a moment thought of. I had recently done this with 
great warmth ; I had represented the trust confided to Lord 
Durham as similar to that of the defence of some besieged 
outpost of the empire, and I had asserted that in his case, as 
in that of the military commandant, success would be the 
only proof that our countrymen would accept of the efficiency 
of his defence. Great, unexpectedly great, as was the addi- 
tional discouragement to which he was now exposed, I think 
— I even then thought — ^that it would have been wise, had it 
been possible, for Lord Durham to have held the post. His 
reasons for quitting it have been stated at full length in his 
dispatches and proclamation, and they unanswerably show 
the fearful chances of failure in his great purpose of maintain- 
ing and pacif3dng Canada, to which the factious conduct of 
the Tories and the more fatal abandonment of ministers had 
exposed him. I think also that they quite clearly showed that 
the persecution of which Lord Durham had been the object 
from the onset of his government, and the mistrust of his 
power occasioned by the recent occurrences, had placed 
difficulties in his way from which another governor would in 
all likelihood be free. Still I think that had he met the diffi- 
culties with his accustomed energy, he would in all proba- 
bility have succeeded, and that the honour and advantage 
of success after such discouragement would have been so great 
that it would have been quite prudent for such a prize to run 
the risk of a failure, for which under the circumstances of the 
case nobody could have blamed him. I approved of his 
resignation on a ground which now, alas ! I may very plainly 
mention. Without surmising the real nature or extent of the 
mischief, I saw that Lord Durham's health was fearfuUy 
affected by all that had passed. Such a degree of nervous 
agitation did his disease produce, and such a reaction of that 


agitation on his bodily health was constantly going on, that 
it was evidently impossible for him to bear up against the 
anxieties and labour of his government under existing cir- 
cumstances, and display that energy and promptitude of 
decision which had so eminently distinguished him when his 
health was better. I felt convinced — and unhappily it is now 
too clear that I was likely to be right — ^that Lord Durham's 
life would very soon have been the sacrifice for his continuance 
in Canada, even for two or three months, and that at any rate 
he was liable to have his energies impaired by illness at 
moments in which any relaxation of them would have been 
fatal to success. I lamented his resignation then : I deplore 
it yet more deeply now ; but I approved of it then, and approve 
of it now, as an act done in compliance with a stern and sad 
necessity. I must not be understood as admitting that his 
return home was calculated to injure the interests of the 
province ; on the contrary, I still think that in the difficulties 
then impending the preservation of the province was more 
safe in the hands of Sir John Colborne than in those of Lord 
Durham, weakened as they were by the repeated proofs of 
his being unsupported at home. It is for his own sake — ^for 
the sake of the influence which his continuance in his govern- 
ment under such circumstances would have ensured him — 
and for the sake of all the strength that would thence have 
accrued to the popular cause at home, that I regret that the 
state of his health compelled him to abandon this chance of 
fame and power, and that even this sacrifice came too late 
to avert the blow which disease had already struck. 

The declaration of Lord Durham's intended resignation 
spread terror and grief throughout British North America. 
The delegates from the Lower Provinces gave utterance to 
the first expression of regret at his departure, and of entreaty 
that he would remain, and it was in answer to them that he 
first publicly announced his intention of resigning. In con- 
sequence of this, addresses of a similar nature came from aU 
parts of both the Canadas. The address from Quebec, pre- 
sented in the hall of the House of Assembly, gave occasion 
to a burst of the most enthusiastic popular feeling. Large 
deputations brought the addresses from Kingston, Toronto, 
and Montreal, and expressed the alarm with which the whole 
British race in Canada regarded the attacks made on Lord 
Durham, and the consequent calamity of his resignation. The 
French — ^though some of the more honest and sagacious of 
their leaders were inclined to express openly their regret at 
an event, which deprived them of their own efficient protec- 


tion from the violence of their antagonists — maintained their 
usual sullen and impassive demeanour. But the feeling and 
the movement of deep regret extended throughout the British 
of every party in the two provinces. Even those who had the 
most violently condemned his policy — even the most reckless 
of the Family Compact of Upper Canada — expressed the 
common feeling in terms proving how sincerely they partici- 
pated in alarm at Lord Durham's departure, if not in approval 
of his polic3\ 

These demonstrations did not, however, affect the grounds 
on which Lord Durham and all around him saw that his 
resignation was absolutely necessary. Indeed these considera- 
tions, together with the news which reached us from every 
quarter of the preparations for fresh insurrection, rendered it 
incumbent on Lord Durham at once to put the fact of his 
resolution beyond a doubt, and to take measures for his instant 
departure, in order to end that species of interregnum which 
cannot but exist when a governor has declared his intention 
of giving up his office. With this view, he determined on 
leaving the province at the close of October, and he announced 
this by the famous Proclamation which he issued on the 9th 
of that month. 

In this Proclamation Lord Durham had two great objects 
in view. The first was that of calming the excessive agitation 
which his abrupt departure from Canada had occasioned, by 
showing that he did not despair, and that he yet hoped by 
immediate and energetic remonstrances at home to effect 
that good which he could not secure by remaining in Canada. 
The second was certainly that of vindicating himself by the 
only public means in his power. He was much censured for 
publishing what has been considered an inflammatory appeal 
from the Imperial Government and Legislature to the people 
of the colonies. It must not, however, be matter of surprise 
that after the unusual mode in which Lord Durham had been 
assailed in Parliament and abandoned by the Ministry — after 
his policy had been condemned without hearing or explanation, 
that he should think it necessary to step somewhat beyond 
the line of official usage, in order to protect himself against 
those who had used him thus ungenerously. As for the 
inflammatory effect which it has been said that the proclama- 
tion was calculated, if not intended, to produce, the answer 
simply is that it both purported to seek, and did in effect 
produce, precisely the opposite result. No disorder, no increase 
of disaffection ensued ; on the contrary, all parties in the 
province expressed a revival of confidence ; and we had it 


very clearly shown to us that one effect of the Proclamation 
had been that of inducing a much more general readiness to 
enlist in the volunteer corps, and take other measures for the 
defence of the provinces (see Note A, at the end). 

There was, however, one necessary consequence of the great 
hurry in which Lord Durham was compelled to take his 
departure when once determined on, that I much regretted. 
He had originally purposed embarking at New York, after 
previously visiting Washington. The knowledge of this 
intention had created the greatest satisfaction in the United 
States, and the people had made preparations for giving him 
an enthusiastic welcome. Shortly after, in my passage through 
the States, I heard that the corporations of the various great 
cities on his line of way had made arrangements for meeting 
him at different points, and conveying him from one to the 
other. Li fact he was everywhere to be received by the local 
authorities as a public visitor. On our return to England he 
was informed by Mr. Stevenson, the American Minister, that 
at Washington he was to have remained with the President 
at the White House as a national guest — an honour never 
before conferred on any one but Lafayette. Such a deep 
impression had Lord Durham made on the people of the United 
States : nor has that impression been yet effaced : to the hour 
of his death his popularity in that great country remained 
undiminished. I regret that no visible exhibition of this 
popularity occurred in the manner proposed, both because it 
woxild have been a great support to Lord Durham at home, 
and because it would have been useful in teaching our public 
men in what way and with what ease mere honesty and 
courtesy can secure the goodwill of that great kindred nation. 
But the intimations of meditated insurrection were so numerous 
and strong that Lord Durham felt that he must lose no time 
in returning home, and that it would be unseemly in him 
to be travelling in the United States at a time in which the 
seat of his late government might probably be a prey to 
civil war. 

During the short time that remained before his departure, 
he occupied himself in bringing to a close or advancing the 
various inquiries and reform which he had commenced. The 
Registry Bill was completed, and received the sanction of the 
principal lawyers of both races in the province, as well as of 
those persons who had long taken the lead in demanding such 
a measure. The agreement with the Seminary of St. Sulpice 
was arranged, and, though Lord Durham did not choose, on 
the eve of quitting his government, to use his strictly legal 


authority to give a definitive sanction to measures of such 
importance, to this arrangement made with the assent of all 
the parties may be ascribed the enfranchisement of Montreal 
from the feudal restraints that have long obstructed its 
prosperity. The Commissioners of Education and Municipal 
Institutions were left to complete their tasks, of which the 
results afterwards appeared in the Appendix to Lord Durham's 
Report. The Commission on Crown Lands had continued its 
labours, and already settled some most important practical 
questions. The Militia claims had been adjusted by the 
proclamation of September 8, and on the 31st of October, the 
very eve of his departure, Lord Durham issued a proclama- 
tion settling the intricate question of the rights of ' squatters ' 
on the Crown lands. But a question of still greater magnitude 
was decided by Lord Durham in the Report on the subject 
of escheat in Prince Edward's Island, contained in the dispatch 
of the 8th of October. The abuse of the proprietary rights 
of the absentee landowners of this colony was the mischief 
that had blighted its prosperity in the very bud. The Legisla- 
ture of the island had in vain passed Bill after Bill to authorise 
the escheat of waste lands on the principles usually acted on 
in almost every new country, and in vain had the Governor 
of the island repeatedly recommended the Crown to give its 
sanction to such a measure. The proprietors in England had 
more weight with ministers than the desires and interests 
of the whole colonial community. Lord Durham's dispatch 
secured the Royal Assent to a law of escheat ; and if Prince 
Edward's Island shall hereafter prosper, it will be mainly 
owing to this interposition on his part. 

I need only mention one other act done by Lord Durham 
before his departure from Canada. The two chief -justiceships 
of the province were resigned by Mr. Sewell and Mr. Reid. 
Lord Durham, without any solicitation, instantly conferred 
the office of Chief Justice of Quebec, the highest judicial 
office in the province, on Mr. James Stuart. This gentleman, 
by universal consent the first lawyer in the province, and the 
ablest as well as most influential leader of the British party, 
had been Attorney-General during Lord Aylmer's govern- 
ment ; and having rendered himself obnoxious to the French 
majority, had been impeached by the Assembly, and an address 
had been presented for his removal. That he had acted with 
a good deal of intemperance in one or two instances cannot 
be denied, but beyond this there was really no foundation 
for the charges made against him. But though this was 
acknowledged by Lord Aylmer and the Colonial Secretary, 

1352-3 B b 


Mr. Stanley, the former removed him from office and the latter 
sanctioned the removal. On any rational system of executive 
responsibility the mere hostility of the Assembly ought to 
have been in itself a sufficient ground for the removal of a man 
from an important executive office, but the dismissal of Mr. 
Stuart by those who strenuously combated that principle, 
amounted to a recognition of the truth of the charges made 
against him, and that recognition on the part of men who 
believed him innocent of all the serious articles of accusation 
was a most flagrant and cruel act of injustice. This injustice 
Lord Durham repaired, and to the great satisfaction of the 
whole British population, made Mr. Stuart Chief Justice of 
the province. A day or two after Lord Durham's departure, 
Mr. Stuart called on me, and as he spoke of his deep and 
lasting gratitude to him for having thus relieved him from 
the stigma that had so long rested on his name, the tears 
actually burst into the eyes of that hard old man. But I do 
not find that Mr., now Sir, James Stuart, who since Mr. 
Poulett Thomson's arrival has been the chief director of the 
Government, has ever shown any care for the interests or 
memory of him who lifted him from the very dirt into the 
highest judicial position in the province. 

It was on the 1st of November that Lord Durham sailed 
from Quebec in the Inconstant. A sad day and sad departure 
it was. The streets were crowded ; the spectators filled every 
window and every house-top ; and, though every hat was 
raised as we passed, a deep silence marked the general grief 
for Lord Durham's departure. His own presentiments de- 
pressed him, and those about him, for he had told me and 
others also that he did not expect to reach England alive. 
When I left him (for I had to stay some time behind to collect 
materials for the Report) I had as a member of the Executive 
Council to repair to the Castle, where Sir John Colborne was 
to be sworn in. There were but few people in the room, but 
the countenances of the old Executive Councillors seemed to 
mark the restoration of the ancient system of administration. 
A good many military officers also were present ; they seemed to 
think that their ascendancy also was restored. The ceremony 
was silently hurried over, and when it was finished I went to 
the window, which commanded a full view of the harbour. 
The cannon were just sounding in honour of his successor's 
installation, when the frigate that bore Lord Durham was 
slowly towed out of the harbour. The sky was black with 
clouds bearing the first snowstorm of the winter, and hardly 
a breath of air was moving. I returned to my office, and, some 



hours after, from the window, which commanded the wide 
basin below the city, I saw the dark form of that ill-omened 
ship slowly, and as it were painfully, struggling on its course. 
My heart filled with many a bitter regret, many a super- 
stitious presentiment, and alas 1 many too true misgivings. 
We dined that evening at Mr. Daly's, and the party was com- 
posed of Mr. Turton, my brother, and myself, forming with 
him the last remains of Lord Durham's government. It was 
a mournful meeting, and none mourned more deeply than our 
kind and honourable host, who said that with Lord Durham's 
departure all his hope had gone. A heavy fall of snow was 
setting in as we left the house, and the very morning after 
the winter was completely set in. The next day we heard the 
alarming report that Lord Durham's worst forebodings had 
been nigh being fulfilled in the most fearful manner by a fire 
on board the ship. This was perfectly true ; not so the reports 
which reached us every now and then during the next fort- 
night to the effect that Lord Durham had been forced to put 
into Halifax, or that he had been driven ashore on some other 
part of the coast. After fearful perils at the outset, the In- 
constant kept on her course to its appointed end amid almost 
perpetual storms, which did not cease even when she had 
reached the shelter of Plymouth Sound. 

Thus ended Lord Durham's mission to Canada, and instead 
of bringing those great results to the country, and that harvest 
of honour and power to himself, for which we had hoped, and 
for which we had all laboured, it seemed at its close to have 
ended in nothing but disappointment to all concerned in it. 
Its most fatal consequence, indeed, was his feeling that dis- 
appointment so acutely, and that, sickened by the malignity 
and weakness of which he had been the victim, he from the 
hour of his return gave way to a depression that quickened 
the progress of his malady. Many of those who enthusiastic- 
ally rallied around him on his return, have since reproached 
him that he threw away the opportunity of complete justifica- 
tion and satisfaction, and refused to take that position in the 
political world which seemed to invite him. But this course 
he took after full and anxious consideration, and took as 
wisely as I am sure he did it honestly. Abstaining from all 
public part in general politics, he reserved himself for Canada 
alone. Nor did he seek to urge on the discussion of that 
topic. When Lord Winchelsea imprudently attempted to 
renew his persecution of Mr. Turton, Lord Durham's short and 
vigorous speech scared his assailants, and at once and for 



ever checked all similar attacks. From that hour he remained 
unmolested by those who had been so eager in assailing him 
during his absence. He never in his turn became the assailant. 
Public opinion had done him such complete justice in the 
matter of the Ordinance that, if he had brought it again before 
Parliament, it must have been for the purpose of assault, not of 
self-defence. When at the close of the session the question 
of the future government of Canada came before the House 
of Lords, he contented himself with a short speech, in which 
he neither defended himself nor attacked others, but, approv- 
ing of the policy of ministers in postponing final legislation 
on the subject, emphatically impressed on the House of Lords 
the principles on which he thought that their conduct towards 
Canada ought to be shaped. At the moment, perhaps, the 
vindication of measures unjustly condemned and thwarted, 
and the triumphant assertion of his own policy by dint of 
argument and eloquence, might have given more satisfaction 
to his friends. But now we may with far higher and purer 
pride look back to the forbearance which he displayed, recol- 
lecting that, when all others thought most of his personal 
position and wrongs, he said nothing of them. True to the 
public principles of his past life, he allowed no impulse of 
anger, no scheme of ambitious aggrandizement out of the 
many assiduously suggested to him, to turn him from the 
course which, independently of all personal considerations, 
he judged to be the best calculated to serve his country. To 
the last day of his life his influence was steadily and effectu- 
ally employed in repressing those feelings on the part of his 
political friends which, if uncontrolled by him, would on 
many an occasion have given the finishing blow to the exist- 
ence of Lord Melbourne's ministry. More active exertions in 
the general field of politics, and the consequent attainment of 
the power of more effectually serving his country in office, we 
might have expected, had he possessed the health which had 
been the spring of his former energy. This it pleased Pro- 
vidence to deny us ; but his hard fate could not deprive him, 
during the period that followed his return from Canada, of the 
opportunity of exhibiting a generous forbearance and an 
unselfish love of country. 

Nor need we look with any dissatisfaction to the fruits of 
his mission. That these were at first less obvious and less 
abundant than they should have been was not his fault, but 
that of those whose misconduct cut short the brilliant and 
useful career of his administration, and compelled him to 
leave to others the execution and completion of what he had 



only planned or commenced. The period of his government, 
which seems so long when we follow its various incidents 
and acts, was after all but of five months' duration, and yet 
in that short time what great practical results did he bring 
about ! His policy in fact it was that pacified Canada and 
secured its retention. He found the gaols of Lower Canada 
full of prisoners trembling for their lives, which had been 
forfeited to the law, and the frontiers crowded with hopeless 
and reckless exiles. These traces of insurrection he removed, 
freed every prisoner, and recalled the exiles, without shedding 
any man's blood or confiscating any man's estate. In Upper 
Canada, where he could not so speedily or completely exercise 
his authority to the same effect, he nevertheless succeeded in 
producing nearly similar results by his advice and example. 
He found the British of Lower Canada suspicious and angry : 
he inspired them with confidence. He found the great mass 
of the people of Upper Canada animated by a discontent 
which bordered on disaffection, and utterly despairing of 
justice from Great Britain. He rallied them around the 
British Crown with that unanimous feeling which they since 
exhibited during the winter of 1838-9, when the whole popula- 
tion turned out against the invaders, and not a man, or hardly 
a man, of those most inclined to disaffection in the former 
troubles lent the slightest aid to the attack. He found a still 
more serious cause of alarm in the alienation of the great 
body, and the active hostility of a dangerous portion, of the 
people of the United States. He entirely changed the public 
opinion of the United States with respect to Canada ; he 
turned it from assailing to supporting the British Government ; 
and he so completely destroyed all general or open disposition 
to aid the insurgent Canadians, that, although some outrages 
were committed by the few reckless desperadoes who crossed 
the frontier at Prescott and Sandwich, the refugees and their 
adherents never again with any effect made an appeal to the 
sympathy of the American people. And though it was 
impossible for him to conciliate the long estranged goodwill 
of the French Canadians, or to eradicate their insane aspira- 
tions after the ascendancy of their race, he deprived their 
discontent of every justification, and so stripped them of all 
aid that their second insurrection exhibited only their utter 
want both of resources in themselves and of allies without. 

I have already adverted to the practical reforms of every 
kind which Lord Durham effected or put in train during his 
stay in Canada. Besides those which were sufficiently simple 
to admit of being completed by him, the foundations of almost 


every reform of the defective institutions of Lower Canada 
were laid bj^ the Commissioners of Inquiry which he estab- 
lished, and by their reports contained in the Appendix to his 
own, or by the suggestions in the Report itself. It has 
been the good fortune of Mr. Poulett Thomson, acting under 
the suggestions made to him by Lord Durham and those 
attached to Lord Durham — ^prompted by the advice of those 
whom we recommended to him as his advisers — and sup- 
ported by those whose goodwill our private representations 
secured for him, to achieve some great and useful reforms, 
But if he had improved the administration of justice, he found 
its defects marked out in Lord Durham's Report. If he had 
prepared a system of municipal institutions, it was Lord 
Durham who painted the mischiefs of the want of them, and 
marked out the means by which they might be erected on 
an efficient and liberal basis. If he has been able to establish 
a comprehensive and sound system of education, the necessity 
and the means were alike pointed out by Lord Durham's 
Commission. If Montreal is enfranchised, if a registry of 
landed property is secured, it is by the adoption of Lord 
Durham's measures for each purpose. And if, above all, any 
reform is yet effected or shall hereafter be effected in the 
management of the Crown lands, the credit of procuring the 
requisite information and of settling the principles to be 
adopted for the future administration of this department, is 
due to Lord Durham's Commission, and to it alone. All these 
were reforms of which neither the necessity nor the practic- 
ability were suggested to Lord Durham from home. He saw 
the defects, he devised the remedies ; others have stepped in 
to appropriate the honour of the execution. 

But unquestionably the most important purpose of the 
mission was that of effecting, or rather suggesting, such im- 
provements in the constitution and general administration of 
government in Canada, as might guard us against the recur- 
rence of the disorders that had for many years afflicted both 
provinces. This task remained to be performed when Lord 
Durham returned to England, and it has been completely 
performed in his Report. The praise of laborious inquiry and 
of comprehensive thought has never yet been refused to this 
document by those even who have most loudly condemned it. 
For it has been bitterly condemned by Tories, whose narrow 
and slavish notions its free principles of government could not 
but shock. It has been condemned by those whose attach- 
ment to the routine of our colonial policy has been revolted 
by the startling recommendation of a generous confidence in 



the good sense of the people of the colonies. It has given 
great offence to those ministers whose whole recent system of 
colonial policy it showed to have been shallow and unsound. 
And there are some, who can dispute no position in it, who 
cannot deny the truth of its statements or the general sound- 
ness of its conclusions, but who, being of that school of wily 
statesmen that imagine political wisdom to consist in going 
round about to one's end — ^that regard truths as mischiefs to 
be suppressed, or at any rate as dangerous matters to be kept 
only for cabinets and saloons — regret that Lord Durham should 
have said anything about responsible government, or at any 
rate that what he said should have been published to the 
world. We may console ourselves that the public at large, 
while admitting the truth of Lord Durham's views, have not 
shrunk from them as dangerous on that account. Even amid 
the universal indifference with which the colonies are regarded 
here, the public in this country have generally and highly 
approved of the Report. But in the colonies it has become 
the textbook of every advocate of colonial freedom, of every 
one who does not deny that our countrymen in the colonies 
should have that voice in their own government which English- 
men are used to regard as the birthright of their race. In 
Canada it has become the rallying-point of the great body 
of the people; those whom the ancient misgovernment had 
driven to the verge of disaffection have waived all their 
former objects for that of the practical adoption of Lord 
Durham's Report, and under his name every subdivision of 
the friends of liberal government have united as ' Durhamites ', 
and insist on that which he sanctioned and no more. Nor has 
the Report been less studied or adopted in the other colonies. 
The people of the West Indies and of the Cape of Good Hope 
have claimed the benefit of its principles, and every news- 
paper from the various colonies of the Australasian world 
appeals to it as the manual of colonial reform. 

Nor need we repine at the practical effect already given to 
the suggestions of the Report. Many of these indeed put 
forward rather what were views of ultimate and possible 
improvement, and general principles of colonial administra- 
tion, than what can be regarded as positive recommendations 
for direct and immediate legislation. But the Report did 
distinctly and earnestly urge the legislative union of the two 
Canadas, and the principal purpose of the Act of the last 
session goes to give effect to this recommendation. I think 
I see in the Lower Provinces a tendency towards such an 
accession to the present union as would realize Lord Durham's 


splendid scheme of a great British community in North 
America. The principle of executive responsibility which he 
recommended, not with the vain notion that it could be 
enforced by positive law, but as the sure and only foundation 
of a firm and peaceable government of the colonies, though 
repudiated in words, has been already partially recognized 
in the appointments made by the Government. But it does 
not matter very much what the Government repudiates or 
what it recognizes, for certam it is that in the Parliament of 
United Canada it has created a power from which no Govern- 
ment in this country will be able to withhold that voice in the 
selection of its rulers, which Lord Durham showed to be a 
necessary consequence of representative institutions. 

If then the mission to Canada must ever be an object of 
mournful contemplation to us who loved Lord Durham and 
lament his irreparable loss, yet, when we look to the interests 
of his reputation, we may regard the execution of this high 
and difficult task as among the noblest of the many noble 
memorials of his career. Let us remember that, if he failed 
to obtain the results of immediate satisfaction and credit to 
himself, it was because he laboured for higher and more per- 
manent objects. Li this, as in every other part of his course 
through life, he left the trodden path of old routine and by- 
gone systems, and was the first to advance towards whatever 
of wider and clearer views the enlarged experience of man- 
kind has in these days reached. Here, as in other matters, 
his foresight enabled him to base his policy on those principles 
on which the coming age of the world will be ruled. He who 
acts thus must not expect that he will be rightly appreciated 
by the little knots of intriguers, from whose thoughts and 
interests he separates himself. But from the mass of his 
countrymen he may expect at least that generous sympathy 
with the rectitude of his purpose, which Lord Durham found 
even in his own day. From after times he wQl receive a yet 
larger meed of justice. For, as coming events in their ap- 
pointed course shall prove the sagacity with which he foresaw 
them — as the public mind, gradually opening to new and 
sound views, shall be prepared to read the right lesson in the 
occurrences which it may witness — so will shine forth Avith 
daily increasing brightness the character of that statesman, 
who alone in his day rightly appreciated the worth of our 
colonial empire, and saw on what deep and sure foundations 
of freedom its prosperity might be reared. With us, then, that 
sorrow for his loss, which no time can efface, need be mingled 
with no vain and injurious regrets for the results of his labours, 


^v hicli Avill long survive in the bettered lot and grateful recol- 
lections of our colonies, with none for a fame which, instead 
of being laid in his untimely grave, will date from the hour of 
his death the commencement of a long and vigorous existence. 

Note A, referred to in Page 368. 

There is one passage in the Proclamation, of which the 
propriety has been much questioned even by some of those 
most inclined to judge favourably of Lord Durham's conduct. 
It is that passage in which he states that, the Ordinances 
having been disallowed, there existed no impediment to the 
return of the persons who had been sent to Bermuda, or 
prevented from returning to the province. This was regarded 
by many as a mere outbreak of temper on Lord Durham's 
part, and it was supposed that, in order to throw obloquy on 
the Government at home, he actually invited dangerous 
persons to return to the colony. I confess that at first sight 
the passage in question has this appearance, and therefore 
I feel bound in justice to say that on that very ground Lord 
Durham was very reluctant to insert this passage, which 
I suggested, and very earnestly and perseveringly pressed on 
him. But practical considerations, totally unconnected with 
any reference to the conduct of the Home Government, 
induced me to make the suggestion, and, I think, justified 
Lord Durham in adopting it. 

The instant that the news of the disallowancereached Canada, 
it was supposed that some of the exiles would enter the pro- 
vince. It seemed doubtful whether in that case they would 
be liable to be tried for their original offence. Nobody could 
deny that they had undergone some punishment, however 
inadequate, and the sound principle of Non his in idem seemed, 
therefore,' applicable to their case. But this point just admitted 
of so much doubt, as to make it quite certain that criminals so 
obnoxious to a large and violent party would not be allowed 
to re-establish themselves quietly at their former abodes, 
without some proceedings against them being attempted. 
We felt quite sure that they would be arrested, and that half 
the magistrates in the province would be eager to commit 
them for trial. The grand juries would have foiuid bills, the 
trials must have taken place, and then would have recurred 
all the mischiefs which the Ordinances had been designed to 
avert. The angry passion of the past insurrection would 
have been revived by the proceedings in the courts, the guilt 
of the prisoners would have been proved in the clearest 


manner, and there would have infallibly followed (as in the 
recent case of the murderers of Chartrand) a verdict of acquittal 
in the face of evidence. 

The punishment of the exiles could only have been secured 
by suspending the habeas corpus, or by altering the con- 
stitution of the tribunals by either substituting courts martial 
for the ordinary courts of criminal law, or packing the juries. 
The last Lord Durham did not choose to do, and the two 
former courses (though defensible in certain emergencies) 
appeared most unadvisable in the circumstances of the case. 
He had abstained from having recourse to such encroach- 
ments on constitutional principles and personal rights, when 
the difficulty of disposing of the prisoners had first presented 
itself to him in all its magnitude on his arrival in the province ; 
and he was most averse, for the sake of punishing a few, to 
take a course from which he had shrunk when it would have 
enabled him to punish all the guilty. And it should always 
be borne in mind that the measures of rigour, which may be 
most necessary during an insurrection, may be the most 
unadvisable when insurrection is apprehended. At that time 
to have suspended the habeas corpus, or substituted courts 
martial for juries, would simply have been to supply the 
disaffected with a pretext for the rebellion which we knew 
them to be meditating ; and, what was more, give them some 
chance of success by setting public opinion in the United 
States against the Government of Canada. These were evils 
not even to be risked except for the most important objects, 
and the exiles in question were mostly so insignificant, that the 
keeping them out of the province really was a matter of no 
consequence. As for Papineau, the only one among them of 
any consideration, we had learned enough of his character to 
feel assured that his presence among the disaffected would 
have been the surest means of paralysing their operations. 
Besides which, however great his moral culpability, I knew 
that the evidence in the possession of Government, all of 
which I had gone through, would not in his case have justified 
a legal conviction. 

The evils, which appeared thus likely to result from the 
return of the exiles, rendered it imperative on us to take 
some precautions to avert them. We were perfectly sure 
that some of the exiles would return without permission the 
moment that they heard of the disallowance of the Ordinances, 
and the fact is that one or two actually did return before the 
Proclamation was out. After the first step taken against any 
of them after their return, the consequences would have been 


beyond Lord Durham's control, and as he could not bring 
himself to commit the Government to an arbitrary course for 
the purpose of punishing a score of persons, he would have 
no choice but of letting matters run their course of arrest, 
trial, and unjust acquittal. 

The great thing then was to prevent any step being taken 
against the exiles, and as they were sure to obtain impunity 
in the end, to let them have it at once without all the interven- 
ing excitement, and without bringing the administration of 
justice into further contempt. I therefore pressed on Lord 
Durham to take the bull by the horns, and as he knew that he 
could not punish the exiles if they came back, at once to tell 
them that there was nothing to prevent their doing so. By 
taking this course Lord Durham did in fact avoid all the 
excitement, exposures, recriminations, and subversion of 
justice which would have followed from his doing nothing ; 
and, on the other hand, the worse mischief which would have 
resulted from his having recourse to violent exceptional 
measures. When the subsequent insurrection actually did 
break out, the rebels could allege no harsh act on the part of 
the Government as a provocation. And what was the practical 
mischief that resulted from letting these people back ? None 
that returned did any harm, or even, as I firmly believe, 
took any part in the subsequent insurrection. But those 
who remained out of the province did all the harm they 

Of course it is always an evil in the way of example, if 
notoriously guilty persons enjoy perfect impunity. I trust, 
however, that I have shown that punishing the persons in 
question by any unconstitutional means would have pro- 
duced far worse effects even than their going unpunished. 

In order to keep up the confidence of the loyal portion of 
the Canadian public in himself personally and generally in 
the Provincial Government, it was necessary for Lord Durham 
to point out that the impunity of these guilty and obnoxious 
persons was not his doing, but that of the Home Government. 
He could say this Avith perfect justice, for he had done his 
best to punish ; his measures had been defeated by the inter- 
ference of Parliament, and the present difficulty had been 
created solely by the disallowance of the Ordinances. And 
I think that it was quite as much in accordance with sound 
policy as with justice for him to lay the blame on Parlia- 
ment. For as blame must in the opinion of the colonists rest 
on some portion of the Government, it was far better that it 
should rest on the House than the Provincial Government. 



A little more discredit thrown on the proceedings of Parlia- 
ment could hardly produce any sensible effect in augmenting 
the odium which at that moment rested on that body in the 
opinion of the colonists. But anything that cast suspicion 
on the policy of the Provincial Government would have 
seriously increased the practical difficulties which surrounded 
not only Lord Durham, but also his successor. In Parliament 
the colonists had no confidence, in the provincial authorities 
an entire trust, and it would have been very unwise to weaken 
the influence of the latter by subjecting them to any part 
of the blame which Parliament and the Home Government 
alone deserved. 

At any rate, as I began by saying, the course pursued by 
Lord Durham in this matter and the passage in the Proclama- 
tion were both adopted at my urgent suggestion ; and I, not 
he, am answerable for what was done, as well as for the way 
in which it was announced. He was, of course, obliged to 
depend greatly on me with respect to aU that concerned the 
internal administration of the province, and more particularly 
in matters connected with the administration of justice. If 
my advice was wrong, he could not be blamed for acting by 
it in such matters. 

I am bound to take on myself whatever blame is due to me, 
for well I know he never would have cast it on me. Every 
man who has to act on a great variety of matters of impor- 
tance must rely on those whom he employs and trusts ; and 
Lord Durham was necessarily compelled in much that he did 
to rely on me and act on my advice. Some steps that he took 
at my suggestion were among those that were most fiercely 
assailed either at home or in Canada. Yet never have I any 
reason to believe that he threw on me even the blame that 
I deserved. Never certainly, though often he might justly 
have done so, did he reproach me with the consequences of 
my counsels, never at least but once, in a moment of very 
natural excitement, and then he repaired the reproach in half 
an hour. 

F 5075 .D87 v 

.3 SMC 

Durham, John 


Lambton, Ear 

1 of, 

Lord Durham' s 



the affairs 

of Brit